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6 Levels of DOT Inspection

6 Levels of DOT Inspection

Most CMVs have to go through a DOT Inspection now and then, especially if they weigh more than 10,000 lbs. These inspections are carried out by a state police officer or a qualified DOT inspector, who checks all parts and accessories of the vehicles thoroughly to ensure that all CMVs on the road are safe and in good working conditions.

There are six extensive levels of DOT inspection of a CMV and its driver. In this blog post, we take a look at all of these 6 levels of DOT inspection in detail. So the next time you are stopped for an inspection, you know what to expect.

Level I: North American Standard Inspection

Level 1 - North American Standard Inspection

This is the most thorough level of DOT inspection of both the driver and the vehicle. This level of inspection involves a complete checkup of the driver’s documents, including the driver’s license, medical certificate & waiver, daily logs, hours-of-service documentation, driver and vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) and Hazmat endorsements.  

The DOT inspector also checks to make sure that the driver is not using any drugs, alcohol or other hazardous material on the job.

The official will also make sure the seat belt, exhaust system, brakes, coupling devices, emergency exits, suspension, tires, trailer bodies, hubcaps, windshield wipers, frame, tail and headlamps, turn signals, steering wheel, rims and fuel systems, are all working efficiently. The inspector will also make sure that the cargo is properly loaded and secured.

Level II: Walk-Around Driver and Vehicle Inspection

Level 2 - Walk Around Driver & Vehicle Inspection

This level of inspection is not much different than the level one inspection, except that the official will check only those items that can be checked without physically getting under the vehicle.

Level III: Driver-Only Inspection

Level 3 - Driver Only Inspection

This inspection level includes a complete check of the driver’s credentials. In this level, drivers are checked for:

  • RODS
  • Driver’s License
  • Endorsements
  • HAZMAT requirements
  • Medical card and waiver
  • Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate
  • Vehicle Inspection Report
  • HM/DG requirements
  • HOS documentation
  • Seat belt usage
  • Possible use of alcohol and/or drugs

Level IV: Special Inspection

Level 4 - Special Inspection

This includes a one-time examination of a particular item. This sort of inspection is normally done to verify or refute a suspected trend carried out in DOT inspection research.

Level V: Vehicle-Only Inspection

Level 5 - Vehicle Only Inspection

This DOT inspection level includes a complete check of the vehicle. This includes everything vehicle related from Level I inspection. Vehicle-only inspection has to be conducted without the driver’s presence and includes the following:

  • Brake and fuel systems
  • Cargo securement and coupling devices
  • Exhaust systems, steering mechanism, and lighting devices
  • Suspensions, tires and wheel assemblies
  • Van and open-top trailer bodies
  • Windshield wipers and emergency exits
  • Electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments
  • Loose or temporary seating on buses

Level VI: Enhanced NAS inspection for Radioactive Shipments

Level 6 - Enhanced NAS Inspection

This level of Inspection is called the NAS (North American Standard) Inspection for Transuranic Waste and HRCQ (Highway Route Controlled Quantities) of Radioactive Material. It involves checking for specific radiological shipments, which includes:

  • Enhancements to Level I inspection
  • Inspection for radiological shipments
  • Radiological requirements
  • Enhanced out of service criteria

Vehicle, drivers, and cargo must be defect free before they may leave for deliveries. While en route, the Level VI out-of-service criterion is applied.

A special nuclear symbol decal has been developed for vehicles meeting the Level VI inspection criteria. It is attached to the CMV at the point of origin of the shipment and removed at the point of destination. This nuclear symbol is only valid for only one trip.

Parting Advice

It would be easier for you to get through inspections and avoid violations if you use an electronic logging system. Electronic logging makes inspections faster, safer, and more efficient for everyone involved. It eliminates Form & Manner violations, such as missing dates, total miles, locations, etc. and it also decreases the probability of HOS violations. It is noted that drivers with ELDs face fewer violations.

Another thing you can do is to have your documents readily available and easy to access, which will aid the inspection process and reflect positively on you. Additionally, you should know what you can do to successfully avoid roadside inspections.

Drivers can try the KeepTruckin electronic logbook app for free. The free app is available for Android and iPhone.

You can also request a free demo for the KeepTruckin ELD, and a product specialist will get in touch with you with all the information you need.


Hunbbel Meer

Hunbbel covers industry trends as a writer and researcher for KeepTruckin. His goal is to help fleets understand how to use KeepTruckin's products and features so they can improve safety, efficiency, and compliance.