Although there is quite a bit of a process to upgrading your status, it’s not impossible. This can even be done within your own organization if you have the time and means to accomplish it. The key to the upgrade is the Compliance Review sent to you by your assigned DOT Investigator. With this, a Request for Review needs to be created in a language DOT is looking for. If this letter is not written correctly, DOT office staff will literally shred and deny the request as we’ve been told by Investigators. Within the Request for Review letter, a Corrective Action Plan must be put into place and followed.
Writing the Request for Review letter is the easy part, even if it does take a lot of work. Following the Corrective Action Plan is where the difficulties lie as FMCSA rules and regulations change on a constant basis. Please note that DOT will only consider the request if they see that your company is showing signs that you are already following your Corrective Action Plan. Sometimes this can take months of bringing your scores down before it’s a good idea to request an Upgrade.
Besides having quality management over your employees to enforce your company policies, much of the Corrective Action Plan comes down to clerical work that DOT Investigators can clearly see with organization and continuous updates of files in a way required by DOT. Being sure that your company is moving in the right direction with compliance will be a big help when a DOT Official considers your Upgrade.
If you manage to request an Upgrade within 90 days of receiving your Denoted Status, you are one of the lucky few that read your Review correctly. Again, it’s best to have a Corrective Action Plan in place before doing so, but responding within the 90 day window correctly will have much better results than waiting past that small window of opportunity.
Furthermore, your chances of a successful Upgrade will dramatically increase with a 3rd party compliance company. With a compliance company representing you, DOT will allow consideration that you take the Compliance Review seriously and are ready to follow the FMCSA rules and regulations. There are several compliance companies in the U.S. to choose from. Most only work locally and deal only with paper files/cabinets. A few, like Safety Compliance Plus, complete all the Safety/Compliance details and have online services so you can access your files via a personal password within an encrypted server.