Many truckers who appealed their CMV traffic ticket convictions still have it in their Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record. What’s more, all truck crashes used to get Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points on their motor vehicle driving record (MVR here in CA, and Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) severity points on their PSP regardless of whether they were preventable. Times have changed, now CSA severity points for non-preventable crashes can be removed from your PSP.
What Is CSA & the SMS & How Do They Affect My PSP?
Most drivers and fleet managers are very familiar with the DOT FMCSA’s CSA program and the Safety Measurement System (SMS) and how those affect the rating for fleets and drivers. The final percentile used for interventions is determined by CSA severity points multiplied by the time-weight of three for similar convictions within the same BASICS categories if there is a second conviction from zero to six months of the first. Likewise, that multiple is two for second convictions from six months to a year after the first. Those numbers are then entered into an algorithm that considers the number of vehicles in the fleet, how many drivers, and the total number of miles driven.
That final determination gives the SMS a percentile between zero and 100. The DOT fleet numbers with a percentile from zero to fifty are considered the safest. Those with a percentile from fifty-one to seventy-four are considered to need some improvement, and those with a percentile from seventy-five to 100 are considered for further intervention.
Most, if not all, of those vehicles, will be pulled into weigh stations and roadside inspection when opened. Most drivers consider it a nuisance, but there is always room for improvement, and the drivers who are lax on vehicle maintenance and push the limits of the hours of service restrictions will have to improve quickly, or their rating will slip even faster.
How Do I Remove a CMV Traffic Ticket Conviction from My PSP?
The first thing a driver should do is always challenge a traffic ticket or roadside violation in court with a traffic attorney. You know you do not have time to sit in traffic court for two days to dispute a traffic ticket. Even when you’re on vacation, you should spend that time with family. Many drivers do not realize that even many lawyers with traffic tickets hire traffic ticket lawyers to resolve their tickets.
Secondly, if you make the mistake of representing yourself in traffic court, you already know that it could take two appearances. One for arraignment, and the second if the court is too busy to handle a not guilty plea that day, which frequently happens in big city courts. Then, in many cases, you don’t have the necessary knowledge and experience that a traffic attorney that spends nearly every day in traffic court would have.
You wouldn’t expect a layman to be able to handle your rig just because they have a driver’s license, so why would you expect “Cousin Vinnie,” the divorce court lawyer, to be able to handle your CMV traffic ticket skillfully? No disrespect to divorce lawyers, but traffic court is much different than family court, especially considering the pace is much faster.
The next thing you know, you have a moving violation conviction and either a warning or immediate dismissal from your fleet manager. You know that warning will come with other penalties from the fleet manager, like giving the better paying routes to other drivers, hoping you’ll quit.
Now, you’ll need to hire that traffic attorney that you should have hired in the first place to appeal your conviction. Once you get the conviction dismissed or reduced to a non-moving violation, you can request a review of your FMCSA PSP record to remove the overturned conviction from your file on DataQs.
How Do I Remove a Preventable Accident Record from My PSP?
So, while you're looking at your PSP, you notice that you have a notification in your file from the CA DMV from a crash report that an investigator basically said was non-preventable but found you more than zero percent; let’s call it ten or twenty percent. Many investigators will do that because they believe truckers sitting above the other traffic should be able to foresee or react to changing conditions on the highway, even when that four-wheeler in a Prius cuts back in front of you after passing because someone flashed their lights at them.
Anyway, those kinds of crashes or collisions always got blamed on the trucker. Only recently has the DOT FMCSA decided to remove the records of preventable accidents from truckers’ and bus drivers’ PSP.
First, you should request a review of your FMCSA PSP to remove it through DataQs, and if they do not remove it, contact a CA traffic attorney.
Contact Bigger & Harman, APC, When You Need Assistance with Any CMV Traffic Ticket, Appeal, or Dispute with the DMV
We are Kern County (but we handle DMV hearings statewide and tickets in southern and central California) Traffic Ticket Defenders who can assist CDL holders with traffic issues. We travel across CA to resolve issues with the DMV, represent truckers and bus drivers at DMV NOTS hearing, and in traffic court. Give us a call to discuss your specific situation.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf.
The CDL Life article, Have You Ever Seen a Copy of Your PSP? Here’s What It Looks Like.
The InfinitiWorkForce.com article, CSA Score Reduction, How to Challenge Crash Ratings.