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OOIDA files 2nd lawsuit against FMCSA over DataQ appeal process

“By refusing to accept the determination by a court, the FMCSA has in essence made state law enforcement agencies the final judge and jury on all citations,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice-president.

The Trucker News Services

5/24/2013

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, OOIDA, filed a second complaint with the U.S District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration with regard to its safety records and the DataQ appeal process.

OOIDA filed on behalf of a member who received a citation for failing to stop at a weigh station while traveling through Montana. He had missed the stop at first, but immediately turned around and went back. He later had the ticket dismissed without prejudice by Montana courts. The ticket was removed from his motor vehicle record, but it still remains on records kept by FMCSA, which are made available to the public. The Association is seeking to prevent FMCSA from reporting that the truck driver violated the law and asking that the information be purged from his records.

“By refusing to accept the determination by a court, the FMCSA has in essence made state law enforcement agencies the final judge and jury on all citations,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice-president.

The data stored in the FMCSA’s safety records database is also utilized by the agency’s Pre-Employment Screening Program and the Compliance Safety Accountability enforcement program, known as CSA. However, when a DataQ challenge is submitted by a driver to FMCSA, it is routed back to the state where the inspection report with the alleged violations originated. The Association believes is the federal agency’s way of delegating the responsibility of keeping complete and correct data to the states.

“How can this system be considered to have any integrity if it is above the law of the land and purposely fails to be accurate?” Spencer asked. “It certainly can’t possibly make roads safer.”

The original suit, which is still pending, alleges the agency fails to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, with the Privacy Act, and with mandates governing agency action contained in the previous highway bill, SAFETEA-LU. OOIDA alleges that FMCSA releases records of alleged safety violations to potential employers before drivers have had their day in court and that it refuses to delete references to such violations even after drivers have been exonerated in court.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 150,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo., area.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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