DOT Compliance Audit: Understanding the Process and Knowing How To Prepare

Companies undergoing a DOT compliance audit often liken it to a painful dental procedure, but with the proper understanding of regulations and documentation requirements, the experience can be pain-free. Let’s delve into what a DOT safety audit entails and how you can effectively prepare for it.

What is a DOT Compliance Safety Audit?
According to the FMCSA, a safety audit is a comprehensive review of a motor carrier’s records to confirm the presence of fundamental safety management controls, ensuring full trucking compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Hazardous Materials Regulations. Workplace safety holds paramount importance, as failure to adhere to regulations can lead to FMCSA registration loss and significant fines. It is crucial to have readily accessible documentation to avoid these consequences.

Preparing for a DOT Compliance Audit
Preparation is the key to success in a DOT audit. Maintain consistent documentation by organizing DOT-related information on the right side of a folder, while keeping non-DOT information on the left. As soon as you receive the audit notice, assign team members to prepare the required documents without delay. Remember that auditors are not your allies. Keep them in a private room away from daily business operations and provide only legally mandated information. Stay proactive even if your company is not solely a trucking company. Actively listen, ask questions, and ensure you understand the final report before the auditor departs.

What Happens During a DOT Compliance Audit?
During the audit, auditors scrutinize patterns and consistencies in violations, abuses, or ongoing safety issues such as speeding or traffic stops. They heavily rely on various documentation sources to gather this information. Understanding what to expect and how to prepare for a trucking DOT audit is crucial. Below are lists of items to review to ensure a successful DOT audit.


  • The auditor will require comprehensive information about your drivers. Gather the following items:
  • Driver’s list: Provide details such as names, dates of hire, license numbers, and dates of birth.
  • Driver’s licenses: All drivers must possess an active commercial driver’s license (CDL) or operator’s license. Note any driver exemptions.
  • Records of duty (ROD): Submit hours of service (HOS) tracking and other supporting documents.
  • Motor vehicle records (MVR): Request MVRs from your drivers annually and retain them for three years.
  • Driver’s safety performance history: Ideally, provide records for the past three years.
  • Certificate of violations: Document any moving violations for each driver within the last 12 months.
  • Medical certificate: Drivers should present documentation and relevant waivers for a physical examination from a certified medical examiner every two years of employment.
  • Application for employment: This document covers accident and work history, background information, and reasons for leaving previous employers.
  • Road test and driver training: Provide proof that each driver has passed a driving skills evaluation test.

The auditor will also need documentation related to the vehicles used in your business, including:

  • Vehicle list: Include all fleet vehicles, their unit numbers, plate numbers, and vehicle identification numbers (VINs).
  • Proof of vehicle inspections: Maintain documentation of passed vehicle inspections within the last year for every commercial vehicle in your fleet.
  • Proper vehicle markings: Ensure your business’s name and USDOT number are visible on all sides of each truck.
  • Hazardous materials shipping documents: Provide appropriate shipping papers and response information for drivers handling hazardous materials and retain these documents for one to three years.

Lastly, have the following carrier or programmatic documents readily available for your DOT audit:

  • Proof of insurance: Carriers must possess proof of insurance with a minimum coverage of $750,000, depending on the shipment types.
  • Accident register: Maintain an accident register for any carrier involved in a crash within the past year. Retain the register for three years.
  • Drug and alcohol program: Document your drug and alcohol testing program, including pre-employment tests for CDL drivers. Show compliance with FMCSA regulations by demonstrating random drug and alcohol testing procedures.

Let AIST Safety Assist You with DOT and FMCSA Compliance
Keeping up with the required DOT compliance paperwork and documentation for a DOT audit can be challenging. At AIST Safety, we are here to help. We specialize in monitoring DOT compliance and FMCSA compliance, enabling your company to implement the necessary systems for a successful operation. Our expertise will assist you in becoming more organized and safer, freeing up time to focus on your customers. Let us support you in navigating the complexities of DOT audits and ensuring ongoing compliance. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.