Hunter calls for FMCSA to rethink treatment of dismissed tickets in CSA

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 9/18/2012

Concerns continue to mount over FMCSA insistence on keeping violations in the CSA database, even after a judge has dismissed the corresponding ticket, with Rep. Duncan Hunter firing off a letter urging the agency rethink the current review process.

The California Republican’s letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro specifically addresses the DataQ process. That is the system the agency set up to address incorrect violation data used by the Comprehensive, Safety, Accountability compliance enforcement program.

Data is collected from roadside inspections and crash reports. It is then calculated through an algorithm that eventually ranks motor carriers based on their violation and crash histories.

In some instances, a citation will be issued during a roadside inspection and the violation will also be noted on the inspection paperwork. If the driver contests the citation in court and is either found not guilty or has the ticket dismissed, it is no guarantee the violation will be removed from the CSA profile.

Following a recent House Highways and Transit Subcommittee hearing on CSA, part of which addressed the DataQ challenge, Hunter wrote to Ferro urging the agency to rethink their position of not basing data appeals where there is a corresponding ticket on the judge’s ruling.

Currently, the contested violations are routed to the originating law enforcement agency, and sometimes even to the officer who conducted the inspection. The appeal can be denied in this process – even if the corresponding ticket was overturned in court.

“This procedure effectively makes a judge’s ruling irrelevant for FMCSA’s safety rating, and represents a breakdown of due process for the operator in question,” Hunter wrote.

He pointed that by keeping the contest violations in the database motor carriers are essentially left with an undeserved “faulty blemish” on their safety records. That in turn, could spread FMCSA’s limited enforcement resources too thin, investigating companies that are not unsafe.

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