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Answers to the most common DataQs questions when it comes to roadside inspections


DataQs is the system the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has in place to challenge incorrect data. Understanding the answers to common questions about the system can lead to greater success.

Question: Should we use DataQs to challenge roadside inspection violations we don’t think were violations?

Answer: Yes, DataQs is the venue for challenging violations on roadside inspection reports. The key is being able to prove the violation was not present at the time of the inspection or that the officer made an error.

Question: How does the Data Qs process work?

Answer: The way the process works is when the DataQs Request for Review is filed, it is sent to the lead DataQs investigator in the state involved. The investigator will review the request, review the report and any notes on it, speak to the officer involved, and then make the decision. It’s important to present a solid case between your narrative and supporting documents if you hope to convince the investigator that the violation was not present or issued in error.

Question: Can we get a violation removed from a roadside inspection report using DataQs based on a technicality, such as the officer cited the wrong section in the regulations

Answer: No. DataQs does not function like a courtroom where a technicality can lead to a citation being dismissed. Submitting a DataQs over a technical error will not result in a violation being removed, it will only result in the information on the report being corrected. However, if the correction changes the situation or violation for the better, then there would be an advantage to filing the DataQs in the case of a technicality.

Question: A judge dismissed a citation that was written for a violation on a roadside inspection report. Can I now challenge the violation on the report?

Answer: Yes. When a citation related to a violation is reduced or dismissed, the court’s decision (a legal document) can be used as a supporting document in DataQs. Normally, this will result in the violation being removed or the severity being reduced to 1 in CSA (if the citation was reduced).

Question: If the DataQs decision was “closed, no change,” and I believe the decision was wrong, can I refile the request for data review?

Answer: You may refile, but in order to get a different decision, you must provide additional or new proof or facts. Simply restating or rewording your past argument will not do any good.

Question: Can I ask for a copy of a missing roadside inspection report using Data Qs

Answer: Yes. A carrier can file a DataQs request asking that they be provided a copy of the report. They will need to know the date, time, and location of the inspection when filing the request. However, before asking for a copy of the report you should verify with your driver that the contact was actually a roadside inspection, and not a screening or traffic stop.

Key to remember: DataQs is the tool a carrier can use to correct errors in FMCSA's data related to roadside inspection reports. If you are not using it yet, consider starting to use it today!