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Adjudicated Citations Finally Reflected in CSA Scores

new fmcsa regulations

DON JERRELL
Associate Vice President

New FMCSA regulations have changed the game on DataQs and adjudicated citations.

States now will be able to reflect the results of adjudicated citations related to roadside inspection data collected in the Motor Carrier Management Information System. [Click here to read the FMCSA announcement in the Federal Register, the newspaper of the federal government.]

Here’s a Q&A that covers what trucking firms need to know about the new FMCSA regulations:

How is MCMIS changing?

MCMIS is changing to how it shows adjudicated results. The new rule calls for MCMIS to show that a citation was dismissed or resulted in a finding of not guilty; resulted in a conviction of a different or lesser charge; or resulted in conviction of the original charge.

What’s the purpose of the new FMCSA regulations?

The goal is to improve the quality of roadside inspection data.

What’s the process for adjudicating citations?

Adjudication still involves FMCSA’s national data correction system, DataQs. According to the rule, certified documentation of adjudicated results must be submitted through a Request for Data Review in the DataQs system.

Take note, however, that the new FMCSA regulations on displaying adjudicated citations applies to inspections occurring on or after August 23, 2014. This means that you can only request an RDR for inspections that happen on or after August 23. This line in the sand in terms of a start date for implementation was set to make sure states have enough time to set up their computer systems to record and share the adjudication data.

This August 23 date also means that MCMIS will not show retroactive adjudicated inspections — only inspections on or after August 23.

How will the rule change impact other FMCSA databases?

The adjudicated citations touch databases beyond MCMIS. The following table shows what will happen to adjudicated citations in the Safety Measurement System and the Pre-employment Screening Program:

Result of adjudicated citation associated with a violation uploaded to MCMIS

Violation in SMS

Violation in PSP

Dismissed with fine or punitive court costs

Violation not removed

Violation not removed

Dismissed without fine or punitive court costs

Violation removed

Violation removed

Not guilty

Violation removed

Violation removed

Convicted of a lesser charge

Inspection appended to indicate violation “resulted in conviction of a different charge”; severity weight changed to 1

Inspection appended to indicate violation “resulted in conviction of a different charge”

How will DataQs change because of this new policy?

DataQs will be updated in August 2014 to accept RDRs tied to adjudicated citations.

What impact will the policy change have on law enforcement?

FMCSA officials admitted that law enforcement agencies may change how they handle roadside inspections. Officers could write fewer citations and instead write more warnings, which can’t be adjudicated.

According to FMCSA, the administration never has dictated when law enforcement should issue citations and instead trusts officers to handle violations the best way they see fit. FMCSA is most interested in collecting fair and accurate violations in MCMIS.

During the comment period on this rule change, there were concerns about “masking” convictions. What’s the status on masking?

FMCSA forbids masking. The feds define masking as when a court dismisses citations after a guilty plea has been entered or after a financial penalty (a fine or mandatory contribution to a local program) has been paid as a condition of dismissal.

The result is that a driver can rack up serious violations without these violations ending up on record.

The rule change on displaying adjudicated citations should allow FMCSA and states to better track instances of masking. What’s more, states found violating the masking prohibition risk decertification of CDL programs, which would affect their ability to earn grants.

What other questions do you have on the new rules? What’s your opinion on the regs? Please sound off in comments!

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Topics: Transportation