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Is It Necessary to Obtain A USDOT Number to Drive A Truck In LA?

Do you need to have a USDOT number to drive a commercial vehicle in California? Generally, the following types of interstate vehicle drivers must have a USDOT Number:

  • Their vehicle weighs more than 10,000 lbs., for instance, GV/CWR, or GV/CW
  • Drives between 9 and 14 people and receive either direct or indirect compensation for it
  • Transports 16 — or more — passengers
  • They use their truck to haul hazardous materials

But that’s not all. We cover pertinent details regarding DOT numbers below:

Is it necessary to have a USDOT number for driving a truck?

Of the 31 states that enforce the regulation regarding USDOT numbers, California is one too. Therefore, if your trips meet the criteria mentioned above, you’ll need a DOT number. 

And, while this is a federal regulation, even interstate drivers working in South Dakota and Tennessee should take care to comply with it. That’s because they could end up paying hefty fines or have it used against themselves as fodder in a lawsuit fodder! 

Is a USDOT number the same as an MC number?

An MC number is for the identification of carriers-for-hire transporting regulated commodities between states. The words, regulated commodities, refers to goods that are not in their natural state. A USDOT number, on the other hand, is useful in the identification of interstate commerce carriers. In any case, determining whether a carrier will need one or the other requires the decision of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Blue Truck
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Why do I need DOT certification?

Also known as the DOT or USDOT number certifies a few things about the driver and their vehicle bearing it:

  1. The driver passed the required quality measures
  2. Are skillful enough to maneuver any carrier vehicle in the United States
  3. Able to apply for a commercial driver’s license. 
  4. They may apply for a job that requires a DOT certification if they have a commercial driver’s license

Want to know How to Obtain a DOT Number? For that, you must pass a physical exam and several skills tests. Even after you receive your DOT number directly from the United States Department of Transportation, you’ll need to take those same measures once every two years to retain your certification.

Connecting the DOTs

Afterward, you must display the DOT certification and your name on every vehicle you drive – or for companies in their commercial fleet. This must happen before you take out the vehicle for driving or transporting. Moreover, make sure that you place the number on either side of the truck’s engine. The usual spots that most drivers choose are the cab or the vehicle door. Finally, the number should be in a color that contrasts with the vehicle’s body, so that anyone can easily see it from a distance of 50 feet. 

Use a bold font, so that there are no potential issues. Furthermore, choose a height that is more than 2” since that is the minimum lettering height mandatory for compliance. We’d recommend that you choose as big a font size as you can, provided that it looks aesthetically pleasing to any observing eyes – and not easy to miss. Generally, drivers use vinyl graphics or magnetic signs to make sure that the signage is prominent enough. 

As an interstate driver carrying a DOT number, you will be responsible for complying with the standards that the FMCSR regulations mention. You can read those guidelines or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations on the FMCSA website.

Should you want to check out your company’s USDOT number, you can also do that at the FMCSA website.

Does your job involve transporting hazardous materials? Then you’ll need to display hazmat placards beside the DOT display. You can find the information on the FMCSA website

Image by Ely Penner from Pixabay

Laws unique to LA and the rest of California

California state government is very strict when it comes to environmental standards and regulations. The requirement for compliance extends to trucks and those driving them as well. Therefore, make sure you don’t land on the wrong side of those rules. Although they may seem cumbersome at times, these regulations will keep LA a beautiful place to live in. They also allow carriers like the one you drive to transport goods on the interstate highways.

So, for instance, pay attention to the rule about smog testing. Any vehicles that leave behind a thick smog or emission may be said to be violating the law. Therefore, correct that issue before you drive into a weigh station for an inspection. Most vehicles are put through similar inspections for smog testing. Two exceptions would be diesel vehicles 1997 model year — or older — that have a GVWR higher than 14,000 pounds.

Parting Thoughts

Are you sure you understand the DOT number requirements and compliance issues? Well, then you’re ready for interstate travel. Safe journey!

Author Bio

Audrey Throne has an ongoing affair with the words that capture readers’ attention. Her passion for writing dates back to her pre-blogging days. She loves to share her thoughts related to business, technology, health, and fashion. To date, she has given life to multiple worth-a-second-read pieces. Audrey is a fitness freak and loves to travel. When she isn’t writing, she takes her kayak and sails to discover more ecru and earthy tones.  Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.


Featured Image by Schwoaze from Pixabay