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Motor Carrier Permit Frequently Asked Questions

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Motor Carrier Permit (MCP) - Frequently Asked Questions

This information does not in any way supersede the laws and regulations governing this program as laid out in the California Vehicle Code (CVC), California Revenue & Taxation Code (R&TC) and the California Code of Regulations (CCR).

 

What is a Motor Carrier Permit (MCP)?

An MCP is a document issued by the DMV’s Registration Operations Division.  The MCP is issued to the motor carrier as evidence the carrier has registered their CA# with the DMV, as required by CVC Section 34620.  Additionally, the MCP verifies the motor carrier has met all statutory requirements to commercially operate motor vehicles on California's highways.  The MCP contains information specific to the motor carrier (e.g., name, mailing address, CA#, and effective/expiration dates of the MCP).

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Who needs an MCP?

  • Any person or business entity that is paid to transport property in their motor vehicle regardless of vehicle size, type, or weight. Entities that transport property for compensation are deemed a 'For-Hire' motor carrier.  (Example: If you are a courier service and your vehicle is a motorcycle, you are required to have an MCP.)
  • Generally, any person or business entity operating a commercial vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more, either for commercial or private use, hauling their own goods or property.  Entities operating such vehicles are deemed a 'Private' motor carrier.
  • Operators of any vehicle or a combination of vehicles transporting hazardous materials.
  • Operators of a combination of a motor truck and trailer, semitrailers, pole or pipe dollies, auxiliary dollies, and logging dollies, that exceeds forty feet in length when coupled together.  For the purpose of an MCP, a “trailer” excludes camp trailers, utility trailers, and trailer coaches.
  • Operators of any motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicle and trailer for which the operation requires a commercial driver license, except vehicle combinations including camp trailers, utility trailers, and trailer coaches.

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Who does not need an MCP?

  • Household goods and/or passenger carriers as defined in Section 5109 of the Public Utilities Code (PUC) (those vehicles operate under Public Utilities Commission authority.)
  • Household goods carriers transporting used office, store, and institutional furniture and fixtures when operated under a household goods carrier permit issued pursuant to Section 5137 of the PUC.
  • Operators of:
    • Pickup trucks with a GVWR of less than 11,500 pounds, an unladen weight of less than 8,001 pounds, and equipped with a box-type bed not exceeding 9 feet in length, when operated in a non-commercial manner.
    • Vehicles providing transportation of passengers only, a passenger stage corporation transporting baggage and express upon a passenger vehicle incidental to the transportation of passengers.
    • Two-axle daily rental trucks with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds when operated non-commercially.
    • Vehicles which are exempt from vehicle registration fees.
    • Motor trucks or two-axle truck tractors, with a GVWR of less than 16,001 pounds, operated singly in non-commercial use. (This provision is valid only through December 31, 2015).
    • Motor trucks or two-axle truck tractors, with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds, when operated singly, or when used to tow a camp or utility trailer, a trailer coach, a fifth-wheel travel trailer, or a trailer designed to transport a watercraft, and is never operated commercially.  (This provision becomes operative on January 1, 2016.)

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When must a new carrier apply for an MCP?

New carriers must apply prior to starting operations, as an MCP is required before vehicles can be operated on California roadways.  An MCP term is the 12-month period beginning on the first day of the month of the initial application and expiringes on the last day of the twelfth month; however, the MCP will not be issued until all requirements are met.

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How do I obtain an MCP?

To obtain an MCP the following must be provided to DMV:

  • A CA# issued by the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
  • A completed Application for Motor Carrier Permit - MC 706 M (PDF).
  • Proof of financial responsibility (MCP 65 M).
  • Proof of Workers' Compensation insurance or signed exemption.
  • A valid Requester Code issued by the EPN if you employ drivers with a Commercial Class A, Commercial Class B, or Class C driver license with a hazardous materials or any other applicable endorsement required by CVC Section 15278.  If you have questions or need forms contact the EPN Unit at (916) 657-6346.
  • Payment of fees.

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May I apply for an MCP at my local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Field Office?

No. The single point of contact for all matters related to the MCP program is the Registration Operations Division located at DMV Headquarters in Sacramento, California. The MCP Operations Unit is not open to the public; however, there is a public drop box labeled "Motor Carrier Permit" in the lobby of Building West at 2570 24th Street, Sacramento. For more information contact MCP Operations at (916) 657-8153.

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Where do I send my application and insurance to obtain an MCP?

Make a copy for your records and mail your completed Application for Motor Carrier Permit - MC 706 M (PDF) fees, and proof of liability and workers' compensation insurance to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations Division
P.O. Box 932370 – MS H875
Sacramento, CA 94232-3700

Overnight delivery:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Registration Operations Division
2415 1st Avenue – MS H875
Sacramento, CA 95818

MCP drop box:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Building West Lobby
2570 24th Street
Sacramento, CA 95818

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How do I obtain a Carrier Identification number (CA#)?

The CA# is issued exclusively by the CHP to identify motor carriers and is used as the MCP number.  Not all motor carriers who require an MCP need to participate in the BIT Program.

CA# applicants must complete a Motor Carrier Profile (CHP 362) and mail, fax, or hand-carry it to their closest CHP Motor Carrier Safety Unit.

For more information, visit the CHP website or contact the closest Motor Carrier Safety Unit, the Commercial Records Unit, or Commercial Vehicle Section (see page three of the CHP 362 form).

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What are the liability insurance requirements to obtain an MCP?

Levels of liability insurance vary from $300,000 to $5,000,000 combined single-limit coverage depending on the type of vehicles and the property transported. Proof of insurance must be submitted on one of the following forms (CVC Section 34631, CCR Section 220.06):

  • Certificate of Insurance (MC 65 M)
  • Certificate of Self Insurance (MC 131 M)

To apply for a Certificate of Self Insurance, a motor carrier must meet the following requirements:

  • The motor carrier fleet is comprised of 25 or more commercial vehicles registered in the motor carrier name.
  • The required level of liability insurance does not exceed $750,000.
  • There are no unsatisfied judgment(s) against the motor carrier name or the "Doing Business As" or trade names listed on the application for an MCP resulting from property damages and/or bodily injury (including death) caused by a motor vehicle accident.

Self-insurance forms may be obtained online. For additional information contact MCP Operations at (916) 657-8153.

Additional information pertaining to self insurance for MCP purposes may be obtained in the CCR, Title XIII, Article 3.5.

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Do I need to provide proof of Workers' Compensation insurance?

Yes, all motor carriers are required to provide proof of compliance with California's Workers' Compensation laws. Submit one of the following or certify on the Application for Motor Carrier Permit - MC 706 M (PDF) that you are not subject to California workers' compensation laws:

  • A Certificate of Insurance (MC 65 M)
  • A Certificate of Insurance submitted by the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) electronically.
  • A Certificate of Consent to Self-Insure issued by the Director of Industrial Relations Office of Self Insurance Plans.
  • A signed exemption statement, stating that in your operations as a motor carrier you do not employ any person in any manner so as to become subject to the workers' compensation laws of California.

For additional information regarding Workers' Compensation requirements and laws, go to Department of Industrial Relations or call them at 1-800-736-7401.

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If I only employ family members in my business, is Workers' Compensation insurance required?

Yes, a motor carrier who employs only family members is required to provide workers' compensation insurance. For additional information regarding workers' compensation requirements and laws, go to Department of Industrial Relations or call them at 1-800-736-7401.

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How are MCP fees and penalties determined?

MCP application fees are based on the type of motor carrier operation (for-hire or private) and the number of power units in the motor carrier fleet.  A motor carrier fleet includes all power units owned, leased and/or operated by the motor carrier.

Initial MCP application fees for motor carriers with interstate operations are prorated based on the actual mileage driven within California; however, the CIF is not prorated and is due in full.  Interstate motor carriers are issued a Non-Expiring MCP and are not required to pay renewal fees, including the CIF.

All fees applicable to the type of motor carrier operation are due upon application for an MCP.

R&TC Section 7236 imposes new penalties for failure to pay MCP fees, when due, on permit terms with an effective date of January 1, 2016, and later.  Penalties will increase and continue to accrue until all fees are paid.

MCP Fee and Penalty Charts (PDF)

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What is the Carrier Inspection Fee (CIF)?

Assembly Bill 529 (Statutes of 2013) amended CVC Section 34501.12, establishing the Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program to replace the Biennial Inspection of Terminals program January 1, 2016.  R&TC Section 7236, which establishes the fees due to obtain an MCP, was amended to add the new CIF in support of the BIT program.

The CIF applies to all carriers and is determined by the number of motor vehicles in the carrier’s fleet and is due in full.  Interstate carriers with non-expiring permits will pay the CIF only upon initial application.  Seasonal carriers will pay the CIF only once in their seasonal term.

MCP Fee and Penalty Charts (PDF)

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Do my fees change if I add vehicles to, or remove vehicles from my fleet?

Fees are based on the size of the motor carrier fleet (power units only, do not include trailers) at the time of initial application or at renewal.  Additions or deletions to your fleet during the current MCP term do not have to be reported to DMV until you renew your MCP.  Renewal fees will be based on the new fleet size information.  A list containing the license plate number, state of issuance, and the vehicle identification number of all vehicles in the motor carrier fleet is always required when applying for an MCP.

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What is a Seasonal MCP?

A Seasonal MCP, commonly referred to as a Seasonal Permit, can be issued to an intrastate motor carrier operating on a “For-Hire” basis for a period of no less than 6 months, but no more than 11 months, in a twelve month term.  Seasonal carrier fees are based on the size of the fleet, and are comprised of the Safety Fee plus one twelfth of the Uniform Business License Tax (UBLT) for each month the MCP is valid, and the full CIF.  Seasonal carriers will pay the CIF only once in their seasonal term.   Extensions can be requested for a fee of $5 plus one-twelfth of the UBLT based on the fleet size, per additional month of operation in the seasonal term.  A seasonal MCP cannot be issued to an Interstate motor carrier.

MCP Fee and Penalty Charts (PDF)

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What is the Biennial Inspection of Terminals program?

Under this program, any motor truck with three or more axles, truck tractors, trailers or semi-trailers used with motor trucks with three or more axles, trucks transporting hazardous materials requiring the display of a placard, and truck-trailer combinations which exceed 40 feet in length are required to be enrolled in the Biennial Inspection of Terminals program.  Motor carriers may self-certify as to enrollment on the MCP Application.

For more information, please contact the closest CHP Motor Carrier Safety Unit, or Commercial Vehicle Section (see page three of the CHP362), or visit their website at: www.chp.ca.gov.

The Biennial Inspection of Terminals program will be replaced by the Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program effective January 1, 2016.

 

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What is the Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program?

Effective January 1, 2016, the BIT program will replace the Biennial Inspection of Terminals program.  Pursuant to CVC Section 34501.12, all motor trucks identified in CVC Section 34500 and motor carriers of property identified in CVC Section 34601 will be subject to BIT.

Under the new BIT program, the CHP will select terminals for inspection based on the available carrier performance data or the commodity transported, rather than the previous time-based mandate of once every 25 months.  Carriers must maintain and make available for inspection vehicles and records at the terminal(s) inspected as required by CVC Sections 34501 and 34501.12.

NOTE: Trailers continue to be included in BIT inspections but are not considered when identifying vehicles for payment of MCP fees.

For more information contact the closest CHP Motor Carrier Safety Unit, the Commercial Vehicle Section (see page three of the CHP 362), or check CHP’s website.

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What is Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing (CSAT)?

CVC Section 34520 requires motor carriers and drivers to comply with the CSAT requirements of the United States Secretary of Transportation, as set forth in Part 382 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Additionally, upon the request of an authorized employee of the CHP, motor carriers are required to make available for inspection copies of all results and other records pertaining to controlled substance and alcohol use and testing conducted pursuant to federal law, including those records contained in individual driver qualification files.

For more information please contact the closest CHP Motor Carrier Safety Unit, or Commercial Vehicle Section (see page three of the CHP 362), or check CHP’s website.

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Am I required to be in compliance with a CSAT program to obtain an MCP?

Yes.  Upon initial application or renewal, all MCP applicants are required to self-certify their enrollment in or exemption from a CSAT program.  Both the Application for Motor Carrier Permit - MC 706 M (PDF) and the MCP Renewal Application (MC 134 M) has a section for self-certification.

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Are motor carriers who only transport US Mail or freight containers required to obtain an MCP?

No. The transportation of US Mail or freight containers, whether empty or loaded, has been deemed interstate commerce. If you are under contract with the United States Postal Service and transport only US mail or if you only transport freight containers, you are not subject to MCP requirements even if all your transportation is conducted in California.

Contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Unified Carrier Registration for additional information regarding interstate commerce.

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Is a refuse transporter considered a "private" or "for-hire" carrier?

A "for-hire" motor carrier is a carrier who transports goods or property for compensation. A "private" motor carrier is a carrier who does not transport goods or property for compensation. Since the refuse is considered to be the property of the carrier, after pick up, the carrier is not transporting someone else's property for compensation. Therefore, a refuse transporter is considered a private carrier.

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If I change the name of my company, do I need to apply for a new MCP?

If this is a change of name only and there has been no change to the business entity, including a change to your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Tax Identification Number (TIN), you do not need to apply for a new MCP. However, you will need to complete and return to the department the Motor Carrier Permit Notice of Change - MC 152 M (PDF). If you are unable to access or print the form via the Internet, please contact the MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 and a form will be mailed to you.

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If I change my business entity (e.g., sole proprietorship to partnership, individual to corporation, or partnership to individual), do I need to apply for a new MCP?

Yes, you will need to apply for a new permit in the name of the new business entity. To do this you will need:

  • A new CA# issued by the CHP.
  • An Application for Motor Carrier Permit - MC 706 M (PDF) completed in full.
  • If your vehicles require commercially licensed drivers, you must enroll the new business entity into the EPN Program and provide a valid requester code on the application.  For more information, you may contact the EPN Unit at (916) 657-6346.
  • A new Certificate of Insurance for liability insurance (MC 65 M) issued to the new business entity.
  • A new Certificate of Insurance for workers' compensation insurance or indicate proof of exemption on the application.
  • Payment of required fees.

If you are no longer operating under the previous MCP, you must file a Request for Voluntary Withdrawal Motor Carrier Permit - MC 716 M (PDF) with the department. Fees paid for an MCP that has been withdrawn are not refundable. Failing to file the Voluntary Withdrawal prior to cancelling your insurance may result in the suspension of your MCP. Failing to file an MC 716 M, may result in penalties, in the event the carrier returns to operating their fleet.  Contact the MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 if you need forms or assistance.

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Am I required to obtain an MCP if all my drivers are independent contractors and I only own the trailers?

No. Only carriers who operate or employ drivers to operate those vehicles listed below are required to obtain an MCP:

  • Self-propelled commercial vehicles as defined in subdivisions (a), (b), (f), (g), and (k) of CVC Section 34500
  • Any motor truck of two or more axles with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds.
  • Any other motor vehicle used to transport property for compensation

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What is the Employer Pull Notice Program (EPN) and who is required to enroll?

The EPN Program was established to provide employers of commercial drivers and regulatory agencies a means of promoting driver safety through ongoing review of driver records (CVC 1808.1).

Employers must obtain a requester code and enroll any driver employed for the operation of any vehicle, if the driver is required to have any of the following:

  • Commercial Class A license.
  • Commercial Class B license.
  • Class C license with Special Certificates or Endorsements, issued pursuant to CVC Section 12517, 12519, 12520, 12523, 12523.5, 12527, 12814.7, or 15278.
  • Any driver of a passenger vehicle having a seating capacity of not more than 10 persons, including the driver, operated for compensation by a charter-party carrier of passengers.
  • Passenger Stage Corporation with a certificate of public convenience and necessity, Transportation Network Company, or other permit issued by the PUC.
  • A regularly organized fire department.
  • The Board of Pilot Commissioners for Monterey Bay and the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo, and Suisun, and its port agent.
  • A motor carrier who contracts with a person to drive a vehicle described in subdivision (k), of CVC 1808.1 that is owned by, or leased to, that motor carrier.
  • Taxicab drivers engaged in transportation services.
  • Employees who operate vehicles on official California State business (SAM - Chapter 7-751)

Effective January 31, 2005, federal regulations require a person who is applying for a California commercial driver license with an original Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement to undergo a security threat assessment.  The USA Patriot Act requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to complete a security threat assessment (background records check) before the DMV issues a HazMat endorsement.  For further information, please contact the TSA at 1-855-347-8371 or visit Universal Enroll.

For more information regarding EPN enrollment call (916) 657-6346. For information regarding commercial driver license requirements, call (916) 657-5771 or (916) 657-5772.

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Am I required to enroll in EPN if my business terminal(s) are located out of state and I employ driver(s) who are licensed out of state?

You are not required to enroll in the EPN program if your operation does not have any terminal(s) located within California. However, if you regularly garage, maintain, operate or dispatch from a dispatch office, cross-dock facility, maintenance shop, business, store, or private residence located within California, you are subject to enrollment in the MCP and EPN programs.

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Am I required to enroll in the EPN Program if my business is a Corporation, Partnership, or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and I am the only driver?

Yes. If the motor carrier is a Corporation, Partnership, or LLC and vehicles in the motor carrier fleet require commercially licensed drivers, enrollment in the EPN program is required. The EPN requester code number must be provided on the application for an MCP.

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How do I change my address?

To change your address on your MCP, you will need to complete and return to the department the Motor Carrier Permit Notice of Change - MC 152 M (PDF). If you are unable to access or print the form via the Internet, contact the MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 and one will be mailed to you.

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If I am no longer operating as a motor carrier, do I need to notify DMV?

Yes, you need to complete and return to the department a Request for Voluntary Withdrawal Motor Permit - MC 716 M (PDF). If you are unable to access or print the form via the Internet, contact the MCP Operations Unit at (916) 657-8153 and a form will be mailed to you. Withdrawing from the program prior to the expiration of your MCP does not result in any refund of fees.

Withdrawing from the program after the expiration date may result in penalties in the event you return to the program.

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Is the information I provided on my MCP application confidential?

Generally, all information provided on the MCP application is public record, is regularly used by law enforcement agencies and is open to inspection by the public.

The following information contained in the MCP application is designated as confidential:

  • List of employees provided annually by motor carriers with 20 or more vehicles
  • EPN requester code number
  • FEIN or TIN.
  • Driver license number
  • Specific payment information
  • Social Security Number

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How do I obtain information about an MCP holder?

MCP Operations provides brief, specific public information via the telephone at no charge. To request information from MCP records, complete and sign an Information Request Motor Carrier Permit - MC 430 M (PDF). Be sure to include the requester's driver license number on the form.

Submit the completed request and required fee to the address shown on the form. Information request fees are non-refundable and requests submitted without payment will not be processed.

Motor Carrier Information request processing fees
Information Requested Required Fees
Duplicate MCP $15.00
Applications (Copy Per Year) $20.00
Carrier Status Screen Prints (Each) $5.00
Copy of Insurance Certificates (Each) $20.00
Active Carrier List (CD) $125.00

Subpoena charges are $24.00 per hour or $6.00 per ¼ hour or fraction thereof. Additional fees of $16.00 per hour may be incurred if documents are retrieved from the off-site storage facility.

Public Records Act requests must be submitted to the following address:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Legal Affairs Division
Legal Office, MS C-128, Third Floor
2415 First Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95818

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What happens if I operate as a motor carrier of property without an MCP?

Operating as a motor carrier of property without an MCP is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than three months, or both.  CHP may also confiscate and impound your vehicles. Effective January 1, 2016, penalties may also be assessed when applying for an MCP (R&TC Section 7236).

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Can the DMV suspend an MCP?

An MCP may be suspended when any of the following actions/activities occur:

  • Failure to pass BIT inspection by the CHP.
  • Failure to comply with CSAT requirements of federal law as described in Subdivision (a) of CVC Section 34520.
  • Failure to make copies of CSAT results and other records available to CHP as required by Subdivision (b) of CVC Section 34520.
  • Knowingly leasing, operating, dispatching or otherwise utilizing vehicles from a carrier whose motor carrier permit is suspended, when the suspension is based wholly or in part on the failure of the motor carrier to maintain any vehicle in safe operating condition.
  • Failure to be enrolled in the EPN program.
  • Suspension and/or revocation of  an owner-operator’s driver license.
  • Failure to maintain liability and/or worker's’ compensation insurance.

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In addition to the MCP, do I need to obtain other permits to operate my commercial vehicle(s)?

There are many permits that may be required when operating commercial vehicles in and out of California in addition to the MCP. Utilize the following websites for additional information regarding permits for commercial vehicles.

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Will the DMV audit my carrier records?

The department reviews all carrier records on an on-going basis.

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