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A Division of MTG Insurance

A Division of MTG Insurance

What You Need to Know About DOT Inspection Levels

May 2, 2023 | Bobtail Insurance

Is your truck inspection ready?  The Department of Transportation (DOT) conducts random checks of commercial motor vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more. And unfortunately, a truck driver who fails the inspection could be forced out of service. So, it pays to be prepared.  The DOT official will use one of six inspection levels during the examination. Therefore, you need to understand the requirements for all of them. Let’s take a closer look at each DOT inspection level.


Level 1: North American Standard Inspection


The North American Standard Inspection is the most comprehensive of the six levels. It involves checking documentation, vehicle parts, and the driver’s sobriety. During this DOT inspection, officials will note the following.



  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate (if applicable)
  • Driver’s License
  • Driver’s Record of Duty Status (as required)
  • Hours of Service
  • Vehicle Inspection Report(s) (if applicable)


Vehicle parts

  • Seat Belt
  • Brake Systems
  • Coupling Devices
  • Cargo Securement
  • Fuel Systems
  • Lighting Devices
  • Frames
  • Steering Mechanisms
  • Tires
  • Van and Open-Top Trailer Bodies
  • Suspensions
  • Wheels, Rims, and Hubs
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Electrical Cables and Systems in Engine and Battery Compartments
  • Seating
  • Driveline/Driveshaft
  • Exhaust Systems
  • Emergency Exits
  • HM/DG and Specification Cargo Tank Requirements, as applicable


Level 2: Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection


This DOT inspection resembles Level 1, except it only involves items an official can check without sliding under the vehicle.


Level 3: Driver-Only Inspection


This DOT inspection level involves all driver-related items, which include the following.


  • Driver’s License
  • Driver’s Record of Duty Status
  • Vehicle Inspection Report(s)
  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate
  • Carrier Identification and Status
  • Hours of Service
  • Seat Belt


So, keep your paperwork up to date.


Level 4: Special Inspections


DOT officials focus on a particular document or vehicle feature for this inspection level. The DOT typically uses these inspections for research. For example, the department may want to know how frequently a certain violation occurs.


Level 5: Vehicle-Only Inspections


This inspection includes all vehicle-specific items featured in a Level 1 inspection. However, a DOT official conducts it without the driver present, usually after an accident or incident.


Level 6: North American Standard Inspection for Transuranic Waste and Highway Route-Controlled Quantities (HRCQ) of Radioactive Material

DOT Inspection Level 6 only applies to vehicles transporting highway route-controlled quantities (HRCQ) of radioactive substances, like medical waste or nuclear material. It features all of Level 1’s items but also includes more inspection procedures, enhanced out-of-service criteria, and radiological requirements. It also happens before a trip begins.

If you need more information about preparing for these inspections, ask for our DOT Inspection checklist. It pays to be prepared—especially on the road.