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The Ultimate Overview of DOT Recordkeeping Requirements
Mariah Barr
6 mins read
What DOT files do you need to keep and for how long?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires the companies they regulate to keep records to document their compliance with safety regulations. This documentation must be saved for varying lengths of time as established by the related regulations.

During safety audits and DOT compliance reviews, auditors will carefully comb through your DOT records. By purging unnecessary records and properly organizing your files, you will simplify and streamline the review process — which can go a long way with a DOT officer.

Below, we cover some of the most important DOT record-keeping requirements to help companies organize and maintain their files on a regular basis.

How Long to Keep DOT Records

The following is a quick re­view of record-retention requirements in a few key DOT compliance areas.

DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Records

Remember all DOT drug and alcohol test (DAT) records must be main­tained in a secure location with controlled access. This means all DAT records must be kept in a separate file under lock and key; they should not be stored with personnel files.

Because the rules make no exceptions for one-driver companies, we advise owner-operators to maintain their DAT files separately as well.

The following records must be maintained for at least five years:

  • Alcohol test results indicating a BAC of 0.02 or greater 
  • Verified positive controlled substances test results 
  • Refusal-to-test documentation 
  • Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) evaluation reports 
  • Copy of annual calendar year summary if required by 49 CFR 382.403

The following records must be maintained for at least two years: 

  • Random selections 
  • Reasonable-suspicion testing documentation 
  • Medical evaluations for "shy lung" and "shy bladder" situations

The following records must be maintained for at least one year:

  • Negative and canceled drug test results 
  • Alcohol test results with a BAC below 0.02

Additional record retention requirements:

The employer’s policy, driver’s signed receipt, and all records related to employer and supervisor education and training must be retained while the individual performs safety-sensitive and/or supervisory functions and for two years thereafter.

Driver Qualification Files

Both the Driver Qualification and Safety Performance History Files must be retained for as long as the safety-sensitive individual is employed by the company, and for three years thereafter.

The following documentation may be discarded from the Driver Qualifi­cation File three years from the date of execution:

  • Annual List of Violations 
  • Annual Inquiry to State Agencies 
  • Annual Review of Driving Record 
  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate 
  • Safety Performance Evaluation Certificate (if applicable)

Hours-of-Service Records

The following hours-of-service records must be maintained for six months:

  • Drivers' records of duty status (RODS)
  • A backup copy of ELD records on a separate device from which the original is stored

Supporting documents, such as:

  • Dispatch records
  • Receipts
  • Statements
  • Bills of lading
  • Weight station tickets
  • Phone bill statements

If your drivers operate strictly on short-haul runs, you are required to document the time your drivers clock in and out, the total time worked during the current period, and the total time worked during the previous seven days.

Vehicle Maintenance Records

For every vehicle in their control for 30 days or more, DOT-regulated companies must retain the following records for one year at the location where the vehicle is garaged and for six months after the vehicle leaves the company’s control:

  • Identifying information (company number, make, serial number, and tire size) 
  • Inspection schedule, including type and date

Other vehicle maintenance recordkeeping requirements:

  • Post-trip inspection reports must be retained for at least three months from the report date 
  • Periodic inspection report (or copy) must be retained for 14 months from the report date 
  • Evidence of an inspector’s qualifications for one year after the inspector ceases to perform inspections for the company

Use an Organized DOT Record-Keeping System from the Start

Remember, it's easier to create a clean, organized DOT record-keeping system from the very beginning. Too much time can be wasted trying to use or fix a recordkeeping system that is barely keeping up with the latest federal regulations.

Setting up (or switching) your DOT recordkeeping system in a secure, 100% online platform is the best way to ensure all your DOT files are organized and kept up to date according to FMCSA requirements.

Ready to make your record-keeping easier? You don't have to go very far. Foley's DOT recordkeeping experts are here to help you transfer your files to our platform and help ensure you're audit-ready every day.

Get a free demo of our DOT record-keeping software now by clicking here. 

Or, fill out the form below and one of our DOT compliance specialists will reach out to you shortly.

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