View Full Version : Question about USDOT number

03-02-2004, 04:45 AM
Ive got a DOT question. How many of you actually have USDOT numbers? I know that anything over 10000lbs GVCW requires a USDOT number if its used for interstate commerce. How many of you actually mess with this? Im not trying to get over but I see lots of company vehicles around here that are over 10000 GCWR that dont display numbers. Its not hard to go over GCWR, thats basically a pickup pulling a 7000lbs trailer. Am I missing something or do I not understand exactly what "interstate commerce" is? Im starting a very part time landscaping bus. with no employees and just one truck, an F350 dually w/8' dumpbed (and a trailer). I travel between states with the truck, for the landscaping, but mostly commuting for my full time job. I would really rather not worry with the DOT if I can avoid it.

03-02-2004, 08:43 AM
I know in the state of Ga. especially Roswell you are required to display USDOT numbers. We have them on our trucks that pull loaders because of the weight issues and Isuzu Npr's. I see others around that do not have them and question it as well. The numbers also require that you have annual inspections and carry certain supplies on your trucks.

03-02-2004, 02:56 PM
The USDOT website is confusing to say the least but it appears that there is a required physical for all drivers of a USDOT registered vehicle every two years. Do I have that right? Whether or not a vehicle needs a number may be determined by how its registered / titled. Are your vehicles registered to you personally or to your business? My business will be a sole propietorship so I can leave the truck registration / title in my name, not the business, which means as far as the DOT and DMV are concerned, its my personal vehicle. Im just throwing ideas out there trying to figure out whats going on with this before I start things up.

03-02-2004, 05:30 PM
You do have to have a DOT physical in order to drive a commercial vehicle.

I would recommend hiring a corp. attorney or tax attorney. He can advise you on your legal rights.

There are all kinds of ways to structure yourself.

Are you going to incorporate, etc.?

03-03-2004, 09:42 AM
I don't beleive that titling or registration status of a vehicle has anything to do with the need for a DOT number. I think the criteria is how it is used.

Austreim Landscaping

D Felix
03-04-2004, 01:19 AM
I would have to agree with Doug on this one. If the vehicle is used for a commercial purpose, you must have a USDOT number. The number is the same for ALL vehicles you operate, so you only have to get the number once. You may have to submit yearly updates or something if you get new vehicles, I have no idea on that one.

We just changed from a sole proprietorship to a coporation, and we had DOT numbers before we incorporated. Granted, they are not on the truck, but we do have the numbers...

Unfortunately, no one around here can give us a straight answer on the inspection side of things.....


03-04-2004, 08:33 AM
D Felix,
Having your vehicles registered with the USDOT and not having the numbers displayed is probably a bigger fine than not registering at all and I feel your pain about the inspections. In WV we need an annual inspection for all vehicles. The last time I got the truck inspected, I asked if the DOT inspection was any different and if it needed to be done by a DOT inspector or just a WV state inspector. He didnt have a clue what I was talking about. So I guess he doesnt do them, then a couple of days later I saw an F700 dump truck there being inspected. Go figure.
I know that if a truck over 10000 CGVW (again, you put a lawn equipment trailer behind your pickup, your probably over 10000) is used for interstate commerce (not sure exactly what that means except it must be used commercially and cross state lines) it must carry a USDOT number.
What I meant when I said maybe its the way its registered and titled that makes a difference is that whos to know how you are using it at any given time if its registered to you personally. I commute back and forth across state lines everyday to and from my full time job. If I drive my F350 (GVWR 14400) to work (I actually do), I dont need a USDOT number. If I stop on the way home and pick up a load of mulch to take to my house, I dont need a number. If I use the bathroom at my house then take the truck to my neighbors house and dump off the mulch for $100, do I now need a number and if so, whos going to know and how will they inforce it?
Im not trying to be argumentative. Im just trying to figure out why some people display numbers and others, within the same or similar industries with the same vehicles, dont. I really would like to do things legally, thats why Im bothering to ask, but if I dont need to mess with the DOT, or more so, if they arent going to mess with me, thats just that much less expense and hassle for this part time sole proprietor. I could just call the DOT but I know exactly what their answer will be. "Yes you need to register". Thats pretty standard and I wouldnt expect them to say anything different, even if its not true.

03-04-2004, 09:56 AM
Why some people comply and some don't is no different than a lot of other things that are discussed on this site. Some people comply and do things right and some don't. Its kind of like the lottery. The first time that I was stopped, and made aware of all of the things that we were'nt doing quite right, was a completely random stop along the highway. As I was being pulled over, I though I've got nothing to worry about, I've done everything right. Come to find out, because I hadn't thoroughly researched the regs, I had quite a few things that were'nt correct. Was'nt that burdensome to get right, but just had to find out the answers. You can get some of that from the DOT Federal office in your state, but you also have to check with your state Highway Patrol, or Carrier Enforcement as well.

Also keep in mind, that not only do you have to display the DOT number, you also have to display your City and State.

Austreim Landscaping

03-04-2004, 11:21 AM
One day I hooked my F350 to my 9900 lb. trailer and headed 20 miles to the steel yard. Checked my lights, had all my docs. Thought I was good. Stopped by a State trooper going around the corner cause I had a ramp chain break and it flopped down. Wouldn't you know it. Found out I needed a dot physical even though I didn't need a CDL. Any gvwr over 10K, including personal use. Also, watch yopur trailers cause any trailer over 10K requires that CDL. Cop was way cool and issued afew warning, then gave me a safety test sticker. By the way, I passed my CDL A test yesterday and I feel good!

03-04-2004, 11:40 AM
if you dont leave your state the people you sould be calling are YOUR state DOT and your state police motor carrier div.
USDOT is ONLY for people who leave the state their biz. is located in.. (per mich state police MCD)

(needing a cdl would also be up to each state.)(per DMV in mich)

i guess all im getting at is if you dont know your states rule/regs. you should call them ....instead of asking a bunch of people who live all over the world ...(no offence to anyone)


03-04-2004, 11:42 AM
Most officers are really pretty good about this stuff if they think you are honestly trying to do right. Around here the two things that they won't give you any slack on is outright overweight either for the road or your plates, and unsecure loads.

I know there has been a lot of discussion on other posts about tying down equipment, but here anyway, the fine is too high to even consider getting by. $100.00 per item. One landscaper had fifteen big rolls of sod, fine $1500.00

Austreim Landscaping

03-04-2004, 02:33 PM
USDOT # = interstate commerce

for a state DOT # contact your state attorney generals office or the state police. They can tell you if you need it. Also most are available on the internet.

03-05-2004, 12:05 AM
Originally posted by amw
if you dont leave your state the people you sould be calling are YOUR state DOT and your state police motor carrier div.
USDOT is ONLY for people who leave the state their biz. is located in.. (per mich state police MCD)

(needing a cdl would also be up to each state.)(per DMV in mich)

i guess all im getting at is if you dont know your states rule/regs. you should call them ....instead of asking a bunch of people who live all over the world ...(no offence to anyone)


I agree and disagree. Your state laws are adopted to conform with the Federal Highway Safety Act. If your state does not adopt those regulations they don't get matching federal funds for road maintenance.
As far as getten a straight answer from your State DOT, Good Luck. Most agencies have one person in charge of interpreting each regulation and they are hard to reach and can only offer an opinion. (Just try checking the regs. on electric vs. surge brakes on a tandem vs. single axle trailer at different weights on 1/2 and one ton trucks).
As far as a USDOT #, You do only need it if you are crossing a state line. But you may still need a state DOT #
Now thats about as clear as our foreign policy.

03-05-2004, 02:10 AM
If you have any questions about Ind or DOT regs, take a minute and stop by the Office of Transportation located in the Ameriplex industrial park, that is locate across from Decatur High School on Kentucky Ave. (Next to the Hoosier Lottery Office).
Or stop and talk to a State Trooper or Enforcement Officer, they will be more than happy to bring you up to date on all the regs.
Better to find out from the horses mouth. It can be a real pain to get your truck out of impound!:o
Just my 2 cents.

D Felix
03-05-2004, 10:42 AM
We tried calling the local ISP post last year, supposedly the one guy who we needed to talk to was the DOT officer, he never called back...

No one can give a straight answer, because they don't know what the right answer is. But if you get pulled over, chances are that most town cops and probably county sherriffs don't know what the regs are. Where you have to worry is the state cops, as well as the DOT....

It's not the regs we are worried about... We haven't been able to find out about the inspection portion of it. Supposedly there is a form that needs to be filled out, etc, etc, but we haven't been able to find it.

As far as needing a CDL for a trailer over 10k, that's sort of true here in IN. If the trailer is rated over 10k, and the CGVWR of the truck and the trailer is over 26k, then you need a Class A CDL. Or if the truck has air brakes. If the trailer is rated at 10k or less, you don't need a CDL unless the truck is rated over 26k. You can pull a trailer rated over 10k as long as the CGVWR does not exceed 26k. I.e.- we are fine pulling our 12k trailer with our F350, but should we hook that same trailer up to an F450, we would then need a CDL. That's in IN, it probably varies somewhat in other states, though most others should be fairly close....


03-05-2004, 10:57 AM
You can call any service center and ask if they perform DOT inspection. All they do is check a few things and stick an inspection sticker on your window or inside your cab somewhere.

03-05-2004, 11:47 AM
I have a Indiana Chauffeur License that allow me to operate in the 10-26K combined weight range.

Fred Whitford, the Coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs, has completed a year long study of Indiana and Federal laws as they apply to this industry. During his year long study he spent time both with field Motor Carrier Enforcement officers responsible for the enforcement of these laws and office personnel responsible for their interpretation. I was fortunate enough to set in on several presentations Fred (always entertaining) made regarding license requirements as they apply to weight, product or equipment, necessary forms and the requirement of state and or federal DOT #'s. IMHO Fred is the authority in this field. His findings are or will be available from the Purdue media center. But for right now, give him a call, he can tell ya where to get those forms. BTW he seems to be of the opinion that one should operate on the lowest weight legally possible for your equipment and without a DOT# if possible to reduce enforcement exposure. Also ask him if he has ever heard of the Purdue van getten a speeding ticket on I-65.

D Felix
03-09-2004, 04:41 PM
Russ, we are very familiar with Dr. Whitford... My boss used to be an extension agent in Hendricks County, so he knows him well. I don't know that we had thought about calling him about this, we knew that he had just written a book on all of the laws dealing with pesticide handling and transport. We'll have to see what he says. Thanks.


03-09-2004, 09:34 PM
D FELIX - & other INDIANA LCO's, I can give you some info on this matter.

If the GVWR for your truck PLUS your trailer is over 10,000 then you need a DOT #. (Plate on truck door frame tells GVWR for truck & there should be one on your trailer too.) NOTE: Doesn't MATTER what plate you have on truck or trailer. Ex. If you have a 7 plate on your truck and a 3 plate on your trailer doesn't mean you don't need DOT. It IS THE GVWR on TRUCK & TRAILER ADDED TOGETHER.

If you don't go out of Indiana then you use a BAS-1 form and get a DOT # that ends in IN. (They have a website where you can download the form - www.in.gov.us I think)

The application and assigning of the number is FREE. HOWEVER, you have to also have a MEDICAL CARD (need MD to fill it out for you); a 5 lb. fire extinguisher; 3 reflective triangles; and your TRUCK & TRAILER inspected by a qualified DOT inspector. Also, your trailer must have brakes & a breakaway kit. Finally, you must have the DOT # placed in 2 spots (usually your doors) in at least 2" tall letters.

The trucks & Trailers have to be inspected yearly. The Fire Extinguisher must be "secured" in the truck without junk stacked on it, and it must be inspected annually, too.

Most State Police know something about these rules. I have been dealing with a State Motor Carrier cop who deals with this stuff daily. Even among the cops there is often confusion to the rules.

They can take you "out of service" on the spot if you don't comply. I'd hate to have my trailer and $25,000 worth of equipment sitting on the side of the road. Plus I think the fines can be pretty stiff.

PM me if you have any other questions.


03-09-2004, 09:55 PM

Try www. in.gov/dor/mcs/formlist

This will get you into their site. Then look for BAS-1 form to download (if you are only driving in INDIANA).


D Felix
03-09-2004, 10:36 PM
We have the DOT numbers. Where do you get the inspection form?


01-08-2006, 09:52 AM
The USDOT requires operators of all for-hire and private vehicles that have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of over 10,000 pounds and vehicles with trailers having a Gross Combination Weight Rating of over 10,000 pounds (such as a lawn care vehicle with an equipment trailer) operating INTERstate (from state to state) to have a USDOT Number and display it on both sides of all vehicles operated over the weight threshold. This rule has been in place since 2000; however, effective July 5, 2005, this federal regulation is now being enforced and violators are subject to notices of violation and civil penalties. A law care vehicle is considered a private carrier.

With respect to INTRAstate (within a state) operations, most state governments (32 states) have also begun requiring a USDOT Number for private carriers (those who are not required to obtain state operating authority). This, obviously, is the requirement that most often applies to law care vehicles. These states are called PRISM states, a reference to the federal "Performance & Registration Information Systems Management" program. The most recent state to file notice of intent to become a PRISM state is New York. Effective July 5, 2006, New York will begin to enforce this requirement (currently, NY requires vehicles over 18,000 lbs to comply with the federal USDOT marking regulation).

These states are now issuing civil penalties to these carriers as well so if you operate a law care vehicle of 10,000 pounds including trailer, then you need to secure a USDOT Number or you run the risk of being ticketed by state officials or local police.

To determine if your state requires a USDOT Number or to obtain a USDOT Number, you can visit www.dotauthority.com or call TOLL FREE (888) 414-1874. Numbers can be issued over the phone in just 15 minutes during normal business hours of 9AM and 8PM EST.

James P. Lamb
USDOT Practitioner

01-08-2006, 04:56 PM
$300.00 seems like a lot for a number. Aren't they free or like $50.00 if you go through the DOT directly?

01-08-2006, 06:33 PM
For Indiana:

you need a pdf file reader to open these. If you don't have it you can get a free reader version at:



01-09-2006, 09:45 AM
go to www.dot.gov
its free!!
I just got mine.

01-10-2006, 01:23 PM
In Kansas you do not need one if the gross vehical weight is less than 26,000 lbs. I called up the KCC today and they told me, that I did not need one. There is an exception

Except for motor vehicles under subparagraph (B), motor vehicles, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or less, carrying tools, property or material belonging to the owner of the vehicle, and used in repair, building or construction work, not having been sold or being transported for the purpose of sale, except vehicles transporting hazardous materials which require placards.

Acording to the KCC, landscaping is considered construction work.

There is also another rule for if I am carring material.

Except vehicles transporting hazardous materials which require placards, motor vehicles, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or less, carrying tools, property or material belonging to the owner of the vehicle and used in repair, building or construction work and such tools, property or material are being transported to or from an active construction site located within a radius of 25 miles of the principal place of business of the motor carrier.

Luckily, everywhere that I work is within 25 miles of my home.

I am so happy I don't need a dot number!

So since I am in a "construction" business and work within 25 miles of my home when carrying over 10,000 pounds I do not need a ks dot number. If anyone from kansas has any questions I can give you the number of the guy I called.