We know understanding what is required to comply with the US DOT is confusing!
This article was updated on 1/1/2020.
Hopefully, this information will help clarify DOT regulations for you. We have links to the Official US DOT Website and have also included our own information that may be easier to navigate. We definitely encourage you to contact the US DOT if you have any unanswered questions. The fines are hefty if they are enforced. This is one area of your business you do not want to overlook if your state participates in the Department of Transportation rules and regulations.
When do you need a DOT number?
Go to the Official US DOT website and use their interactive tool to determine if you need a US DOT numbers.
You are required to obtain a US DOT number if you have a vehicle that:
(This information is provided by the Official US DOT Website)
- Is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce; or
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
- Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
- Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation;
AND is involved in Interstate commerce:
Trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States—
- Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States);
- Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or
- Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.
You are required by FMCSA to obtain a US DOT Number and comply with the Federal Regulations.
DOT Participating States
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- DOT Number must be displayed on the vehicle
- Vehicle must have a vehicle number in your fleet
- Company Name and Phone Number must be on vehicle
- Must have a Mounted Fire Extinguisher
- Must have a DOT approved 1st Aid Kit
- Must have Emergency Triangles
- Must have an Accident Log
- Driver must have a current DOT medical card (unless a CDL is required)
- A Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection must be completed before each use
- Operating Authority will need to be obtained if you cross state lines (even if you don’t work in the other state)
- All loads must be properly secured during transport (Ex. Straps on Mowers)
- Vehicles Must be Inspected each year by a DOT approved mechanic
- Any issues found during the inspection must be fixed before use can resume
- Make sure any new vehicles are properly submitted to the US DOT
- Make sure all of your company and vehicle information on file with the DOT is current and correct
Important USDOT Number Information
Although all of their rules need to be followed to be compliant and avoid any chance of a violation or fine. After being pulled over by the US DOT several times, here is what you really need to pay attention to if you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to your vehicles.
- Have the DOT numbers on your truck like your supposed to. Nothing is a bigger red flag than not having them at all!
- Make sure your truck is presentable. If the truck looks unsafe or the panels are rusting out, another big red flag.
- Check to make sure ALL lights are working. This includes your trailer too.
- Replace tires before they go bald. If your tires are noticeably worn down, you are asking to get pulled over.
- Make sure your load is properly secured. The straps you use must be rated for more than the weight of the equipment.
- DO NOT USE YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING.
- Abide all traffic laws.
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More Facts About US DOT Numbers:
- If your trailer is a single axle, you are not required to have brakes on it, and may not need a DOT number depending on the GVWR for your truck and trailer combined. If under 10,001 pounds combined you do not need a DOT number. BUT if when loaded your actual weight goes over 10,001 pounds, then you would need a DOT number. They do have scales and will lay them out on the side of the road to weigh you.
- You get one DOT number that will go on all of your Company’s trucks. Your trucks will also need an identification number in your fleet, such as truck #1 and so on.
- Your actual DOT number is free. Get it on the official DOT website. Everything else about it is going to cost you time and money. It is just the way it is.
- There are several fraudulent DOT companies on the internet. Only deal directly with the collecting authority. Never use a 3rd party DOT service. There is no need.
- They do not test for drugs during the medical card physical, but they do collect urine. Call around to different health centers in your area and ask if they perform DOT physicals to get the medical card. The places in Greater Cincinnati charge between $60 and $100 per physical exam. The cards are good for 2 years in KY.
- The yearly vehicle inspection is also between $60 and $100 per truck. Some auto mechanic shops can complete this, but you may have to take it to a truck stop or large truck mechanic.
- My company has been pulled over 5 times by the DOT! They seem to seek out certain areas in town for a couple days in a row a couple times a year. I am located in Northern Kentucky.
- I have had to replace exhaust manifolds on multiple trucks and a parking brake before getting my trucks to be able to pass the yearly inspection.