Sep 13, 2022

Preparing for a DOT Audit

One of the most important things to remember when undergoing a DOT audit is to be prepared. This means being organized and keeping all relevant documentation readily available. For example, ensure that all DOT-related information is sorted and filed on one side of the folder, with all other non-related information on the other side. This will make the audit process much smoother and less stressful.

That's why most trucking companies find it more convenient and practical to be part of a Consortium/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs) like Labworks USA to manage all, or part, of an employer's DOT drug and alcohol testing program and other DOT or FMCSA compliance needs. We perform tasks as agreed to by the employer to assist in implementing the drug and alcohol testing program and to help keep the employer compliant with the DOT/FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing rules and regulations. We as a DOT Consortium can help you.

When the auditor arrives, you will simply need to remove all of the files on the right side of the folder.

Be proactive and plan if you know you will need to get files ready. This way, you won't have to wait until the last minute and risk being unprepared.

As soon as you are made aware of the impending audit, swiftly delegate responsibility to several capable team members to begin gathering the necessary documents. There is nothing more frustrating than wasting valuable time hunting for a crucial piece of information that an auditor requires.

Remember, the auditor is not your friend. It does not matter how chatty or amiable they may seem - they are not there to do you a favor. So when the auditor arrives, put them in a private room away from the general flow of business.

If a company is being audited, don’t give them access to who drives you home, who works for you, or who can answer any other questions. If they ask why you have a key to your house, tell them it’s for emergencies. If they offer to get your home key, tell them not to do it. It’s that simple.

The files you submit should have a limited amount of information, no more and no less.

It cannot be overstated how important it is to be prepared. It may seem like a hassle - especially if your company does not operate specifically as a trucking company, but uses trucks to transport property across interstate lines - but it will make your life much easier.

As you take part in an audit, be sure to listen and ask questions. Before the auditor leaves the closeout meeting, make sure you understand what will be in the final report, and challenge some of their findings if necessary.

What Happens During a DOT Audit?

As the audit progresses, the auditors keep their eyes peeled for patterns and consistency in violations, abuse, or ongoing safety issues - such as speeding or traffic stops. By doing so, they hope to get a better understanding of the situation and be able to provide adequate support.

The trucking DOT audits are primarily conducted through many different pieces of documentation. It is important to know what to expect and how to prepare for such an audit.

Behold the lists of items you must scrupulously review to ensure a successful DOT audit. The auditors will demand documentation and information from three key categories.

Drivers, vehicles, and the carrier.

It is of utmost importance to attend to each item within these categories to avoid a failure in your audit and thereby meet the requirements to safeguard the future of your business.


So the auditor's gonna need a bunch of info on your drivers. Here's what you need to get:

Driver Information:

Please provide the following information for each of your drivers, including their name, date of hire, license number, and date of birth.

Driver’s licenses:

All drivers must provide an active commercial driver’s license (CDL) or operator’s license. Note any driver exemptions.

Records of duty (ROD):

RODs provide detailed documentation of an employee's hours of service and other relevant information. This allows employers to track employee HOS and ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations.

Motor vehicle records (MVR):

You are required to request your drivers' MVRs every 12 months and keep them on file for three years.

Driver’s safety performance history:

If you have them, records for the last three years would be helpful.

Certificate of violations:

The drivers must provide documentation of any moving violations they have received in the past 12 months.

Medical certificate:

All drivers must provide documentation of a physical examination from a certified medical examiner every two years while employed.

Application for employment:

This document outlines an employee's work history, accidents, background, and reasons for leaving previous employers.

Road test and driver training:

This document indicates that each driver has successfully completed a driving skills evaluation test.

After reviewing all relevant records and documentation, auditors may also request to see additional HOS logs for specific drivers who have been involved in accidents or violations.

For your reference, here's a list of DOT Consortium services we offer at Labworks USA with respective rates.


The auditor will next need to collect some documentation regarding the vehicles used for business purposes, including:

Vehicle list:

The document includes a list of all vehicles in your fleet, their corresponding unit, and plate numbers, as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Proof of vehicle inspections:

It is imperative that every commercial vehicle in the fleet have documentation of a passed vehicle inspection within the last year.

Proper vehicle markings:

The name and USDOT number of your business should be visible on all sides of every truck.

Hazardous materials shipping documents:

You are required to submit accurate shipping documents and contact information for drivers transporting hazardous materials, and maintain these records for 1-3 years.


Now that we have looked at all the categories, let's take a look at the final category: carrier or programmatic documents. These are the documents you will need for your DOT audit.

Proof of insurance:

Your carriers must provide proof of insurance of at least $750,000, depending on the types of shipments.

Accident register:

Any carrier that has been involved in a crash within the last year is required to maintain an accident register, which must be kept on record for three years.

Drug and alcohol program:

You are required to provide documentation of your drug and alcohol testing program and pre-employment tests if you have CDL drivers. You must also demonstrate that you perform random drug and alcohol testing procedures that comply with FMCSA regulations.

To Summarize

here are some violations that can result in automatic failures during your DOT audit. Be sure to keep these in mind before your audit to ensure you are prepared.

  • If a driver fails their medical exam, they are not allowed to operate a commercial vehicle.
  •  If a company does not have proof or sufficient proof of an alcohol and drug testing program, they are not following the law and putting other people at risk.
  •  If a driver refuses a drug or alcohol test or doesn’t follow up with failed tests, they are not fit to drive and should not be on the road
  • Failing to maintain adequate HOS documentation
  • Operating a vehicle without the minimum required insurance
  • Using a vehicle that has not undergone a proper inspection

What are the Consequences of Failing a DOT Audit?

After a DOT audit, you may receive one of three marks: satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory.

A Satisfactory Mark does not mean you can relax. 

It simply means that the audit found you are following the important requirements and regulations of the DOT.
You could be subject to another audit if your CSA score goes up, you receive an inordinate number of customer complaints, or one of your vehicles is involved in a high-profile crash.

A Conditional Mark

There is a possibility that your company has not complied with certain aspects of the audit, but this is not considered to be a safety risk.
This could result in costly DOT audit fines, and drive up prices for things like insurance coverage. However, it is possible to file a Safety Management Plan and bring yourself back up to satisfactory from the conditional.

An Unsatisfactory Rating is a Problem.

You have been found in violation of federal safety regulations by the DOT auditor. This will result in fines, and if the situation is serious enough, your business may be designated "out of service."

If you receive an unsatisfactory rating, you have the opportunity to submit a Safety Management Plan. You have 45 days to submit a plan if you are a passenger or hazmat business, and 60 days if you operate a different CMV business. The FMCSA will review your plan and determine if it meets their standards.

Let the expert team at Labworks USA Services guide you through all the DOT and FMSCA regulations - ensuring compliance while keeping your operation running smoothly.

As a CMV owner, you are all too aware of the difficulties involved in keeping up with the required compliance paperwork and documentation needed to prepare for a DOT audit. Not only must you stay abreast of any changes, but you must also ensure that your paperwork is complete and filed in a timely manner.

Even the simplest mistake in one or two areas can result in a conditional or unsatisfactory rating after an audit. And, of course, you need to run your business at the same time.

At Labworks USA, we can help you. We monitor all DOT and FMCSA compliance.

Our company specializes in helping other transportation (trucking, freight, logistics) businesses implement the systems they need to run a successful CMV company. We will help you become more organized and efficient by letting us handle the tedious compliance.

If you want to find out what Labworks USA can do for your company, call us at (503) 941-5493 or leave your information on our Contact Us page and one of the members of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Our DOT Consortium's friendly team will be more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have and work with you to ensure you are always fully compliant, especially with random DOT drug and alcohol testing and pre-employment testing. Moreover, if you need help with FMCSA Clearinghouse registration, we can further support you.