As a truck driver, your driving record can make or break your career. It is important to your license and employment, that you know what your record contains and how to file a successful DataQ challenge. The DataQ is a system for filing challenges on information on certain violations. State authorities receive information on violations from officers and then forward it to the Motor Carrier Management Information System.
Reported violations may include:
- Roadside inspection reports
- Department of Transportation recordable crash reports
- Investigation results
The only way to challenge the findings, correct errors, and remove them from your record is to file a Request for Data Review online.
What to Challenge and Why
You can challenge any type of data on the record. Some common challenges include incorrect citations, a non-recordable DOT regulation, and even information reported under the wrong carrier.
The data reported can heavily affect your employment, insurance, and your PSP score. It’s important to regularly check your record to ensure the right information is being reported and to challenge any errors quickly.
The Safety Management System only keeps 2 years of data. Therefore, you should file as soon as possible to ensure facts and documentation can be called upon quickly.
To file a challenge, you need to complete the walk-through steps online. First, you’ll need to register for an account using the report number from the record that you are challenging.
If you don’t have a copy of the citation, contact your state authority to get one. You need this information to complete the registration and filing process. Once registered, you are ready to proceed with filing the request.
To help guide you through the process, here are 5 tips for filing a successful DataQ challenge.
1.) Gather your evidence.
First, have everything you need gathered and prepared in an organized fashion. With all the material facts at your disposal, you can easily file an accurate challenge quickly.
Having the facts laid out also helps you keep personal feelings out of the report. Reviewers only look at regulations, facts, documentation, and proof. So, anything other than fact-based information will not receive merit in the investigation.
2.) Fill in all the blanks.
Carefully read all instructions and make sure you understand the question that is being asked. Read the fine print and think about the information you are going to provide.
Use the citation, your notes, and all other information to complete each section carefully. You want to give reviewers everything you have so they can make an informed decision with minimal delays.
Because state reviewers spend a lot of time correcting mistakes in the application, leaving things blank can cause confusion. If you don’t know the information requested, or it doesn’t apply to you, type “n/a” for “not applicable”, for example. This ensures the reviewer that you have addressed everything on the application.
3.) Write clearly and concisely.
When writing your narrative, or description, of the incident, you need to write professionally and accurately. Clearly state what you are contesting, the reason you are filing the challenge, and what resolution you hope to see.
Describe the incident, explain the situation, and reference certain points in the documentation. By giving a clear outline of the events that led to the challenge, you help reviewers establish a timeline and make sense of the information given. They will balance this with the documentation you provide and what the officer reports.
Also, be sure to talk to an expert if you have to cite regulations and interpretation of legal terms.
4.) Add your documentation.
Clearly label your documents. Save your files by the report number, your last name, or the title of the document being attached. The documentation you want to include may vary based on the challenge.
Typical filings include documentation such as:
- A copy of the citation
- Photos from the scene
- Proof of any receipt of work or maintenance performed
- Witness statements
- Damage reports and repairs
- Your own notes from the scene
It can also make an impact if you provide copies of state facts, regulations, reports, and any driver rosters or vehicle lists if necessary. You basically need to prove to an investigator doing the review that an error occurred.
Also, if you received a ticket or citation that was removed or reduced by a court, include a copy of the determination. It will go a long way towards proving your case and clear up your record.
5.) Final touches.
Before submitting, go through the application from the beginning and make sure you have everything completed. Re-read the entire narrative and check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Sort through the documentation and cross-reference it with the narrative to ensure you have everything you need to prove your case. Finally, hit “Submit”. It may seem obvious, but many people get their applications rejected for simple mistakes.
Keep in mind that if filed incorrectly, a challenge can get rejected or delayed.
What Happens Next
Once submitted, state officials begin their investigation process. They will prepare all the information for a formal review and interview the officer involved. The investigation can take several weeks, but most people receive an e-mail or SMS follow-up within 14 days.
If the state investigators request more information from you, be sure to reply quickly. If you need more time to respond, let them know how much time you need. There are deadlines for everything, so don’t delay in providing the details investigators need.
When the state submits its findings, the feds update the DataQ file. This can take several more weeks, so keep checking on the status of your application and your record.
If the determination comes back as denied, you may appeal the decision and resubmit your claim. But, you should only do so if you have additional evidence to submit.
In summary, to apply for review, you need to:
- Register online
- Give the correct record number
- Compile all your documentation and facts
- Complete each section of the application
- Write a clear, fact-based description of the incident
- Upload your documentation
- Press “Submit”
When writing your narrative, remember to:
- Leave your emotions out of it
- Reference regulations
- Provide as much detail as possible
- Attach as much relevant documentation as possible
On Scene Tips
A lot of the information to challenge your record is best collected at the scene. Especially if it’s a crash. First, you want to make sure everyone is safe, and authorities are called. Next, take plenty of photos of the area the incident has occurred. Capture different angles, the vehicles involved, and damages, can all prove to be useful in your challenge.
You can also talk to witnesses, at least try to get their names and phone numbers. Discuss the incident with the officer at the scene and ask for their interpretation of the regulations and rules. By doing so, you can get an idea of what will probably appear on your record. Be sure to document everything you can as soon as possible, so it is fresh in your mind.
As mentioned, the DataQ can significantly affect your employment, so it is important that your record is accurate. Check your record frequently and challenge information as needed. If you have the proof backing up your claim, it will go a long way in the investigation. Use experts if necessary and consider hiring a CDL attorney to help you with the filing process.
Partner with a DataQ Challenge Expert
We know that going through the process of submitting a DataQ Challenge can be time-consuming and frustrating. It’s hard to know what to challenge, and navigating the process can sometimes be difficult. And, we want our drivers to feel covered from every angle with turn-key CDL legal coverage. That’s why ORDP is proud to offer free DataQ Challenge assistance and submissions to every driver in our program. Our DataQ Challenge expert (her name is Tonia, she’s a real person!) helps our drivers through the process and even submits their DataQ Challenge for them! There are no criteria for challenge eligibility, however, the driver must have access to:
- A copy of the Inspection report
- The disposition from the court case
- And/or tangible proof that the violation was incorrect at the time the driver was stopped.
In order to request help with a DataQ Challenge, email a copy of your inspection report to firstname.lastname@example.org, and our DataQ expert will reach out via email with next steps.