This post references CFR Title 49 Parts 300-399 in whole or part
There are 6 Levels of DOT Inspections:
Level 1: which is a complete inspection, including brakes.
Level 2: which is a walk around inspection.
Level 3: which is paperwork inspection.
Level 4: which is a special study, ex: cdl check, brake check, traffic enforcement, etc.
Level 5: which is an inspection just as a level 1, but done at a carrier with no driver. These are typically done with Motor Coaches.
Level 6: which is for highly dangerous hazardous materials, such as radioactive and nuclear materials.
(This all is in reference to Federal Regulation 393.76)
An officer can check the sleeper berth area and ask that the curtain be opened.
This is for several reasons and the Federal Regulations give the authority to do so.
1. To ensure that no unauthorized passenger is in the vehicle.
2. If needed, an officer can measure the sleeper berth area which is required to be 75 inches in length and 24 inches high from the top of the mattress.
3. Proper bedding and mattress must be in the vehicle as well.
Regarding your Personal Possessions, the following applies:
An officer can inspect the entire truck for any paperwork in view.
However, they will need consent, probable cause, or a warrant to search personal belongings in the truck.
I can tell you though, if the driver says no, most officers will do a level 1 inspection and request a K-9 to walk around.
Always listen to the inspecting officer and help him in any way you can.
Have your paperwork and cab in order.
This presents that you are a professional driver and care about what you do.
Be polite, direct and use common sense during any encounter with a DOT / police officer
We are doing a job we had to acquire a FEDERAL license in order to perform, so act accordingly during a DOT inspection.
You have rights, absolutely, but if you are a company driver, you also do not own the truck, which makes all of your actions a bit more ‘under the microscope’, so to say.
This video shows pretty much how NOT to handle DOT inspection stations. (The driver was fired by his company)