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undefinedThe Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program is an essential DOT FMCSA safety measurement plan for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders to understand and adhere to for career advancement. 

What Are CSA Program Severity Points & How Do They Affect CDL Holders?

CSA program severity points are gathered for traffic incidents. roadside inspections, and convictions by CDL holders and multiplied by a time-weight standard. 

When a commercial driver is convicted of a repeated offense within six months of the previous incident or conviction, the CSA severity points are multiplied by three, two for six months to one year, and these are kept on the carrier's DataQs DOT record for two years. 

These are also used to weigh the carrier’s and the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operator's safety performance as part of the DOT FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS).

Carriers with high percentiles, 75-100, are flagged for intervention. That typically includes each of its vehicles using their DOT number being pulled into weigh stations for inspection and frequently inspecting policy and procedures at fleet headquarters to determine if their policies are causing unsafe conditions for the drivers.

The driver’s conviction becomes a part of their Pre-employment Screening Program record for three years. Major offenses and violations could lead to immediate driver disqualification.

Likewise, a second conviction of “serious offenses,” such as reckless driving, illegal cell phone use, unsafe lane changes, operating without a CDL or commercial learner’s permit (CLP), following too close, and others will lead to a 60-day driver disqualification, a third conviction, 120 days, and a fourth within three years, one year.

What Are the CSA Programs Seven BASICS?

The FMCSA’s SMS is divided into seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), these are:

  1. Driver safety—the driver will gather severity points under this category for convictions of reckless driving, speeding, seatbelt use, illegal cell phone use, etc.
  2. Collision indicators—scores will reflect the driver’s crash data and history.
  3. Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance—warnings and convictions for violations of the HOS rules will increase the driver’s score.
  4. Vehicle Maintenance—violations and tickets at roadside inspections for brakes, tires, lights and more will raise the driver/carrier’s score. 
  5. Alcohol and Controlled Substances—convictions for DUI or refusing a BAC test will increase the score in this category.
  6. Compliance with Hazardous Material Standards—secure packaging, labels, placards, and more will affect the score.
  7. Driver Fitness—overdue medical exams, English proficiency, training, and tests will affect this category’s score. 

Safe drivers and carriers will check their CSA program scores on DataQs frequently and do what is necessary to keep their scores low. Performing a daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR) and ensuring deficiencies are corrected or determined to be safe by the fleet mechanic will help keep the CDL holder’s score and Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record clean.   

When a carrier or driver finds inaccurate or erroneous reports or convictions in their DataQs record, they should Request a Data Review (RDR).

Often, the DMV does not forward appeals or corrected convictions. Correcting these shortcomings might require a traffic attorney's assistance. Likewise, CDL holders should always consult a CA traffic attorney about traffic citations. 

CDL Holders Should Contact Bigger & Harman for Questions About Their PSP & the CSA Program

Call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349- 9300 in Kern County, CA, for help resolving traffic tickets to maintain a clean PSP, or if they have a California conviction that is showing as a more severe result on their PSP score, utilize our handy online contact form, or email us at

A clean PSP gives commercial drivers negotiating power with high-paying fleets. One scar on your driving record can easily take away that power. 

A traffic ticket will never make it onto your PSP if there is no conviction for a violation. Likewise, guilt or innocence has very little to do with whether or not you can dispute a ticket and win. A knowledgeable and experienced traffic attorney can make all the difference.  

Download our e-book, Protecting Your Commercial Driver License.

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51Driver Disqualifications.

The DOT FMCSA Factsheet, What is CSA—and how does it affect me? 

The DOT FMCSA DataQs website.

The DOT FMCSA Handbook, Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS) Methodology.

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