Careers Business Ownership Department of Transportation Truck Inspections What to Expect When a DOT Inspector Examines Your CMV Share PINTEREST Email Print Business Ownership Operations & Success Supply Chain Management Sustainable Businesses Operations & Technology Marketing Market Research Business Law & Taxes Business Insurance Business Finance Accounting Industries Becoming an Owner By Holly Schubert Holly Schubert LinkedIn Senior Administrative Coordinator Grand Rapids Community College Holly Schubert was the freight and trucking expert for The Balance Careers and has been writing about transportation industry for almost 20 years. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 01/03/20 All commercial motor vehicles (CMV) that weigh more than 10,000 pounds must undergo annual DOT inspections. A DOT inspection is an inspection conducted by the Department of Transportation to ensure that all the CMV parts and accessories are safe to use, in good condition, and working properly. There are six primary levels of DOT inspections. These may be conducted anywhere by a qualified DOT inspector or state police officer. The following list of the different levels includes an explanation of the methods used in assessing the vehicle and its drive. Level I: North American Standard Inspection Alistair Berg / Getty Images At this level of inspection, the inspector will be meticulous in checking the driver's documents, in addition to looking for drugs, alcohol or hazardous materials that the driver may be transporting. This list includes: Driver's license Driver's daily log and hours of service Driver and Vehicle Inspection Report Medical card and waiver Alcohol and/or drugs Hazmat requirements In checking the vehicle, the evaluation will look at the following parts and accessories: SeatbeltBrakesBrake lampsCoupling devicesExhaust systemEmergency exits and/or electrical cables and systems in the engine and battery compartments (buses)FrameFuel systemHeadlampsLamps on projecting loadsSafe loadingSecurement of cargoSteering mechanismStop lampsSuspensionTail lampsTiresTrailer bodiesTurn signalsWheels, rims, and hubcapsWindshield wipers Level II: Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection Martin Barraud / Getty Images This inspection is almost identical to the level I evaluation, except that the inspector will not check any of the parts that require physically getting under the CMV. You may want to consider using a DOT driver vehicle checklist or mobile app to learn what goes into conducting a vehicle safety inspection. Level III: Driver-Only Inspection Maskot / Getty Images At a level III inspection, you can expect an in-depth examination of the following list: Driver’s licenseMedical cardDriver’s daily logSeatbeltDriver and Vehicle Inspection ReportDriver incident historyHazmat requirements Level IV: Special Inspection Tomasz Zajda / Getty Images The level IV special inspection refers to a one-time examination conducted to take a closer look at a particular feature of the vehicle. This is usually done to invalidate a previous claim about the vehicle — in order to support or refute a study or suspected trend. Level V: Vehicle-Only Inspection Moodboard / Getty Images A level V inspection can be conducted at any location and includes everything in level I regarding the vehicle — but without a driver present. Level VI: Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments Mongkol Chuewong / Getty Images Since DOT regulations came into effect as of January 1, 2005, all CMVs transporting highway route controlled quantities (HRCQ) of radioactive material are required to pass the North American Standard Level VI Inspection. This inspection includes: Inspecting for radiological shipmentsInspection proceduresEnhancements to level IRadiological requirementsEnhanced out of service criteria How You Can Best Prepare for an Inspection Jetta Productions / Getty Images Drivers can learn the dangers of driving defective vehicles and how to detect and report problems for repairs well before a bigger issue arises. One of the best ways to do this is to perform a simple walk-around inspection before and after every trip the vehicle makes, including: Checking the Tires Even though tires rarely blow out, they do tend to deflate slowly until the vehicle can no longer be driven. Check each tire for air and use a digital tire pressure gauge to check out tires that seem deflated. Also, be sure to know the rules and regulations in your state about mudflaps. Some states provide specific requirements for mudflaps/splash guards on the rear of the vehicle (to keep spray and debris tossed up by the tires from hitting the windshields of the following traffic). Testing the Lights Malfunctioning lights, bulbs, and electric signals can be a safety hazard. Be sure to check not only the brake lights but also the headlights, high beams, and low beams by turning on the engine and switching each one on systematically. Looking for Cracks Any cracks in the windows (even small, tiny chips) can quickly become much worse if they aren't addressed right away. Be sure to regularly check for hairline cracks and "stars" caused by flying gravel. To ensure that drivers are passing inspections with flying colors, it's important to know what the inspection criteria includes and how to be proactive about maintaining a safe CMV.