My name isn’t mud

| December 12, 2008

“We’re objective enough to understand that things do happen that could cause some errors,” Benoit says. After all, much of DAC’s reporting mechanism today is electronic, making a carelessly placed keystroke a potential disaster.

“The driver would file the dispute with us if he can’t settle the matter with the carrier,” says Chris Hobza, corporate counsel for USIS. Clicking “Consumers” at USIS.com leads to a page where forms are available to guide you through the process, allowing drivers to provide all relevant information.

“We go back to the customer [the reporting carrier] and explain what is being disputed,” Hobza says, in hopes of a final determination of whether anything needs to be changed. It’s important to note, however, that DAC is a service for carriers, not for individual truckers, and the carrier ultimately decides whether to change its report.

“What’s amazing to me about DAC is that they seem to accept the carrier’s word for it no matter what,” Taylor says.

If the carrier isn’t persuaded by DAC’s dispute managers, then you have the right to make a rebuttal that will be permanently included in the report. But be careful what you say in the rebuttal if you choose to make one, Taylor says.

“What good is a rebuttal statement if the carrier has put ‘abandonment of load under dispatch’ on the report, and the leased owner-operator then puts on there, ‘It’s true that I refused to deliver a load, but it was because I hadn’t been paid in three weeks, and I refused to keep working for this company’?” Taylor asks. “I tend to think rebuttals almost make it look worse. The driver’s trying to explain something, and they just dig themselves into a deeper hole.” Such comments would discourage another carrier from leasing that owner-operator, Taylor says. “They’d say, ‘We’re dealing with a loose cannon here.’”

Rather than file a rebuttal, a complainant can engage the services of an attorney or a driver advocate. “A phone call from an attorney,” Taylor says, “is much more likely to get the attention of the motor carrier’s employee responsible for correcting DAC Reports than a call from a driver.”

If you’ve failed a drug or alcohol test, however, options for clearing the record are limited to determining whether DOT testing regulations were followed. “If the testing regulations were met, then that is the end,” Taylor says. “I can usually do nothing. If the DOT regulations were not met, I may be able to persuade the medical review officer to cancel the test, or to get the motor carrier to agree that the DOT requirements were not met, and thus the test should not be reported to any prospective employers who contact that motor carrier about a driver.”

Attorney’s fees can be expensive. Taylor typically charges a minimum $250 flat fee. Driver’s Legal Plan, which focuses only on traffic violations, offers a retainer for $2.98 a week and a $100 flat fee per ticket nationwide, but that doesn’t include court costs and fines that may be levied by a judge. Best to call first for a free consultation, says Driver’s Legal Plan President Jim Klepper, whose Tuesday-morning show airs at 7 a.m. Central on Sirius Channel 147.

In the end, says Klepper, “every kind of citation that goes on your record is going to affect not only your trucking career but your home insurance, your personal auto insurance, everything.

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