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A primary role of the U.S. Department of Transportation or DOT is to regulate the interstate transporting of passengers and cargo. If you do not adhere to one or more of these regulations, then you are subject to fines and other penalties. There is a lot of misunderstanding concerning DOT violations and some common misconceptions abound.

1. Traffic School Can Remove Infractions

This misconception is so prevalent because it was once true. If you had a reasonably clean driving record and incurred a DOT violation, you could volunteer for an appropriate driver education program. Once that program was completed, the infraction was dismissed. In many cases, the infraction would be delayed so that it didn’t really affect you at all if you complied. All of that has changed. DOT violations are no longer like regular traffic violations, which was done to stop local judges from undermining federal law.

2. Warnings Are No Big Deal

Many novice drivers have this impression because warnings don’t really affect them directly unless the DOT has cause to perform a driver audit. However, these warnings do matter to the carrier and actually remain on its record for two years. Additionally, this performance is reviewed for each carrier on a monthly basis. So, warnings are a big deal. You should inform your carrier immediately, and if you get too many warnings too often, that could have a real effect on your career.

3. Fines Are Similar to Traffic Tickets

Many new drivers are not aware of just how large the fines can get. If a driver is found at fault, then those fines can fall to the individual even though they are adjusted with commercial enterprise in mind. If you get hit with a huge fine for not having the required safety permits, for instance, that is a significant deal for any driver but can be particularly crushing to the driver just starting out.

4. Logs Take a Back Seat to the Physical Inspection

No. Logs are arguably more important. In fact, “log not current” and “form and manner” violations account for more than 25 percent of all DOT violations handed out roadside.

5. Spanish Fluency Only Is OK

Being able to speak with officers in fluent English is a requirement. Nearly 10 percent of all violations arise from the driver being able to communicate, and that carries with it four CSA points.

DOT violations can range from relatively minor to quite serious. If your career relies on a DOT license, then it is in your best interest to be aware of the regulations and adhere to them. If you are caught violating a regulation and given a ticket, it’s usually best to seek legal representation right away.