How to pass a DOT audit with flying colors

How to pass a DOT audit with flying colors

  • DOT audits cover six important categories
  • Proper planning can make audits easier
  • The right fleet management solution can help you prepare for an audit

Whether you manage a fleet of hundreds of vehicles or you’re an owner-operator, Department of Transportation (DOT) audits are a part of the business that you should always be prepared for.

Any carrier that transports at least 10,000 pounds of cargo across state lines can be subject to an audit at a moment’s notice. Consequences for failing an audit can be severe, including ultimately losing your USDOT registration and being placed out of service.

In the best-case scenario, your DOT audit will go smoothly. Here, we’ll tell you how to prepare for an audit and how you can use KeepTruckin’s fleet management solution to make your DOT audit preparation easier.

Automatic failure violations

If a violation is found during an audit, the carrier will be notified. The auditor will also provide an explanation of how to address the violation and get into compliance.

Some violations are egregious enough to cause a carrier to automatically fail the audit. Carriers need to know what they are in order to avoid them. Automatic fail criteria include the following:

Alcohol and drug violations

  • No alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program
  • No random alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program
  • Using a driver who refused a required alcohol or controlled substances test
  • Using a driver known to have an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater
  • Using a driver who tested positive or altered or substituted a test for controlled substances

Driver violations

  • Using a driver without a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
  • Using a disqualified driver
  • Using a driver with a revoked, suspended, or canceled CDL
  • Using a medically unqualified driver

Operator violations

  • Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required level of insurance
  • Failing to require drivers to make hours-of-service records (logbooks)

Repairs and inspection violations

  • Operating a vehicle declared out-of-service (OOS) for safety deficiencies before repairs are made
  • Not performing OOS repairs reported in driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs)
  • Operating a motor vehicle not annually inspected

Categories of a DOT audit

The DOT requires fleets to maintain the previous six months’ worth of logs and DVIRs, which can leave a lot of room for error. A bad DOT audit can lead to fines for both companies and drivers, and in extreme cases, can result in the closing of a business. Advance knowledge and understanding of some inspection categories is a good way to familiarize yourself with the process and stay one step ahead of the DOT.


A fleet must provide documentation of proper insurance for their carrier and the type of cargo being transported.


A carrier should be able to provide documentation proving the correct licensing for all drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle. The carrier must also maintain records of drug and alcohol testing for all company drivers.


The DOT requires six months of logs and supporting documents (per 395.11) for all drivers employed during the six-month period under evaluation. DVIR requirements can be found in section 396.11. The DOT examines these logs for Hours of Service violations, Form and Manner errors, and/or falsification of logs.


A CMV that has been registered with a carrier for 30 or more days must be regularly inspected, repaired, and maintained. The DOT requires records of these reports, which should also include basic information about the vehicle, including model, year, identification number, and tire size. A carrier is expected to keep these records on file for at least 12 months.

Hazardous materials

A carrier must keep records of any hazmat related documentation, including licenses, storage information, labels, and placards. The carrier must also submit proof of required training for the transport of hazardous materials.


Carriers must maintain a record of all driver accidents and injuries for review by the DOT to ensure the accuracy of company records and confirm that FMCSA regulations are met.

How to use KeepTruckin to pass your DOT audit

Many fleets require all of their drivers to use the KeepTruckin app. The app is easy to learn, and based on the ratings, drivers love it. Plus, KeepTruckin helps your drivers get up to speed.

The app’s many features make record keeping much easier. Drivers can register for a free KeepTruckin account by downloading it from Google Play or the App Store.

Have mechanics sign off on DVIRs through the KeepTruckin app or dashboard

Mechanics can view and sign DVIRs directly through the fleet management dashboard. Using this feature streamlines the vehicle inspection process and keeps all inspection reports in one central place. The mechanic can also use the Notes feature to add any additional information to an inspection report.

Use the Reports feature to identify problem areas before the DOT visits

Sifting through six months of paper logs and DVIRs to identify potential violations and errors is time-consuming and frustrating. The Reports feature in the dispatcher portal does all the work for you by identifying any discrepancies contained within the logs and DVIRs that might otherwise be overlooked. By leveraging Reports, you can catch HOS violations before they become a problem.

Download and print all of your drivers’ logs in under a minute

Common reasons for audit failure are lost or misplaced logs, or Form and Manner errors. The Logs page in the dispatcher portal allows fleet managers to filter driver logs by date and violation type.

This gives carriers the chance to catch and correct any mistakes before an audit occurs. When it’s time to submit your driver logs and inspection reports to the DOT, you simply filter by date and click download to print.

Always be prepared for an audit

Taking advantage of the solutions offered by KeepTruckin can help take the fear out of DOT audits and get through one much more efficiently.

Our 24/7 support team is here to assist you day or night when you need a response to questions or to help you through any issues that may arise during an audit. If you receive what you believe is a wrongful citation during an audit, you can reach out to us for help resolving the misunderstanding.

We know that compliance is paramount for all carriers, so we continuously work with the FMCSA to solve any minor technical issues and adjust our products to make your life easier during audits.

Disclaimer: All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute financial, business, or legal advice. Although KeepTruckin strives to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any professional, legal, business and financial or tax-related decisions.

Some of the links contained within this site will let you leave the KeepTruckin website. The linked sites are not under the control of KeepTruckin, nor is KeepTruckin responsible for the contents of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site. These links are provided to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement of the site or affiliation.


Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is an award-winning writer in the energy and transportation industries, a playwright and actor/director, and the author of an Amazon Top 100 book. He is certified by the Department of Homeland Security and Michigan State University in Incident Management and Crisis Communications. He and his wife Beth (also a writer) live in Texas.

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