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Federal Update
Not guilty? Not so fast
FMCSA retools how it handles violations in CSA, PSP database when the courts weigh in on tickets

By Jami Jones, managing editor

Truckers on a high after going to court and beating a ticket may find the way FMCSA plans to handle the corresponding violations in the CSA and PSP database a bit of a buzz kill.

The way FMCSA reports driver violations to the mega database that feeds data to the Pre-Employment Screening Program and Comprehensive, Safety, Accountability enforcement program is changing. The agency announced the changes in early December 2013.

The Motor Carrier Management Information System, or MCMIS, supplies the roadside inspection and violation data to the PSP and the CSA program. The PSP program provides listings of all driver roadside inspection violations and crash reports to prospective employers. CSA scores and weights violations to determine motor carrier and driver compliance in various categories. The motor carrier rankings are public, but the driver ratings are used internally at FMCSA for enforcement only.

Drivers and motor carriers currently have the option to contest violation data in the database. The challenges, called DataQs, are submitted to FMCSA and routed back to the law enforcement agency that assessed the violation.

Before the announced changes, if a driver were to be found not guilty or have a citation dismissed in court, there was no policy in place to have the corresponding violation removed. That led to inconsistencies in how challenges were handled state to state.

Now with the announced changes, challenged violations that have a corresponding citation that is either dismissed or given a “not guilty” verdict will have the challenged violation removed.

However, citations that are dismissed by a court but have fines or court fees assessed will be not be removed from the database.

If the court convicts the driver of a charge different from the original citation, the original corresponding violation will remain and a note will be added to the violation that the legal challenge “Resulted in conviction of a different charge.”

For the purposes of CSA, the severity weight, or points, associated with the violation will be reduced to the lowest value of either the original violation or the newly convicted corresponding violation.

The policy change applies only to new violations. LL