Looking Both Ways
Warnings and Citations
Citations or Warnings
Differences in CSA
This post of Looking Both Ways will address differences in Citations and Warnings. It is important for you the driver to understand differences and effects that a “warning” has against a company’s CSA Basic scores and how a Citation affects the score. This same effect factor could affect your career. Sounds like cause and effect.
Speeding will almost always cause a Law Enforcement Officer to stop a vehicle and operator. If a commercial motor vehicle is involved, the officer will surely record the event on a roadside inspection form. Speeding violations account for almost half of all moving-type violations marked on inspection reports. Some states use speeding as a “trigger” to inspect a commercial motor vehicle. Indiana ranks first in the nation for those violations, which contribute to carriers’ scores in the Unsafe Driving category of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System. Once stopped for speeding the result is one of three actions: 1). No Action – nothing recorded and no action taken; 2). A warning – speeding and written warning are issued and recorded on a roadside inspection form; or 3). Citation issued.
What Happens Next?
If no action was taken – nothing recorded and no action taken - well just that! The speeding infraction “never happened” and there is no evidence it ever occurred. Life goes on.
If a “warning” was issued, there is a paper trail of proof that an infraction occurred. The driver is typically issued a piece of paper called a “warning” instead of a “citation”, and most often the warning is recorded on a roadside inspection form, along with any other violations discovered during the inspection. In this instance the CMV driver feels relieved because there will be no new moving violations added to his or her MVR (driving record) and no money taken from their wallets. Seems like a great deal, eh? That officer sure was kind to just issued me a warning, or wasn’t he? The answer is NO. That officer did you and the carrier you drive for no favor at all in the eyes of CSA. That officer just acted as God, Judge and jury in the eyes of CSA and Data Q’s – you are GUILTY! Wait, how can this be? I only received a “Warning”. Please pay attention. In CSA, “warnings” are treated the same as citations as far as the “points” or “weighted value” against the carrier you drive for. An example – and this could be any type of moving violation - if you receive a 15 mph or greater speeding this is considered a “Major CDL Violation”. It is a severe violation carrying a 10 point value in CSA scoring, Because you just received it is weighted three (3)times which equals 30 and will surely adversely affect your carrier’s Unsafe Driving Basic in CSA regardless of the size of the carrier you drive for. Again, these “points” are assessed regardless if it was a citation or warning. Chances are the safety manager from your company will be giving notification that your services are no longer needed by the carrier. You now have lost your job and income. You go on your way seeking employment or a contract with another motor carrier. The carrier that just released you is stuck living with the CSA points assessed from your warning for two years. That carrier also has NO way of appealing through the Data Q’s system to have those points removed or reduced.
If a citation was issued, you have a right to contest the citation in a court of law and possibly get the violation dismissed (or reduced). The same opportunity is forfeited with a warning. No chance to go before a judge to plead your case. No chance for dismissal. Warning issued, warning stays. Remember – warning carries same points as citation. Should you be issued a citation and be successful in court in having the citation dismissed or reduced, your carrier now has the opportunity to submit an appeal through the Data Q’s system to have the “CSA points” removed from their CSA Basic score. Think of the Data Q’s system as your carrier’s “day in court”. There is a good chance if the citation was dismissed in court that the carrier can successfully have the CSA scoring changed through Data Q’s. The carrier’s success in Data Q’s also affects your PSP report and the violation. Most carriers use PSP as a “pre-screening tool” and see every violation listed on roadside inspections you have had at all carriers you have operated for. This speeding violation now haunts you as you seek new employment. You might get be able to retain or regain your position with your carrier if you were successful in court with a citation.
So, the next time a law enforcement official wants to do you a “favor” by issuing you a “warning”, quickly consider all factors involved and severity of the violation. Your response may be to say “no thank you, I’ll have a citation please”.
Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.
Till the next blog, Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!
Click here to read more of my blogs!
John Mueller, CDS, COSS