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New to Managing DOT Compliance? Here’s What You Need to Know – Part 1.
Mariah Barr
10 mins read

DOT compliance is complicated, but Foley offers solutions to make it simple.

If you've moved into a new position that handles DOT compliance for your company and you don't know where to start, you're in the right place.

You may be an owner-operator, office manager, VP of operations, HR professional, or even a safety and compliance director; however, no matter what your official title may be, DOT compliance simply isn't at the top of your list of experiences - or it isn't there at all.

Below, we'll dive into some of the most common questions professionals like you have when they're new to DOT compliance and the many, many federal requirements that are included, so you can successfully manage your company's compliance.

Before you scroll, here are the questions we'll answer:

  • What companies and drivers are regulated by the FMCSA?
  • Do I need a DOT-compliant job application?
  • What background checks do I need to run on my drivers?
  • When do my drivers need a DOT physical?
  • When do my drivers need to take a drug test?
  • What does a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing policy include?

As you read through, you'll see quite a few acronyms that are frequently used in the DOT compliance industry. Get the definition of the most popular terms and acronyms in this Foley article: 50 Trucking & Transportation Terms You Need to Know.

What companies and drivers are regulated by the FMCSA?

No matter the type or size of your company, if you have a DOT number, you need to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

In addition to having a DOT number, your company is federally regulated if it meets even one of the following descriptions:

  • Owns or leases at least one commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Owns or leases any vehicle designed or used to transport between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation, whether direct or indirect
  • Owns or leases any vehicle designed or used to transport 15 or more passengers including the driver and not used for compensation
  • Hauls hazardous materials (hazmat), and requires placarding, for either interstate (crossing state lines) or intrastate (within one state) commerce

Your drivers must have specific commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) to operate the above vehicles. We explain the different types of CDLs and endorsements your drivers can/should have, plus what any restrictions on their CDLs may mean in this Foley article.

Do I need a DOT-compliant job application?

In short, yes. The applicant must sign and date the application, and you must provide a Summary of Rights to any applicant, since the information included on the application will be used in the required background screening process. The Summary of Rights informs candidates that they can review and dispute any information about them provided by previous employers.

Hire Drivers Faster Now

Everything your job application needs to include is covered in this Foley article: 10 Steps to a DOT-Compliant Application.

Foley's driver-first digital application is designed with busy CDL drivers in mind, and it can be completed from any mobile device. We highly recommend making the application process quick and easy to give drivers the best first impression of your company (and to make your job easier!)

What background checks do I need to run on my drivers?

Not only should you run background checks on new drivers to ensure you're making a good hiring decision, but you must also do so to comply with FMCSRs.

Here are the checks you must perform on every prospective driver:

  • Motor vehicle record (MVR) check
  • Safety Performance History
  • Pre-employment drug test
  • Medical examiner's certificate verification
  • Road test and CDL-certified

We explain what each of these checks involves in this helpful Foley article: Understanding Your DOT-Required Background Checks

It's important to note the changes to the drivers' Safety Performance History as well. As of January 6, 2023, you need to check the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for drivers' drug and alcohol violations as part of the pre-employment process; however, you will still need to reach out to previous employers for moving violation information. You can get more information on this process here.

When do my drivers need a DOT physical?

DOT physicals generally must be done every 24 months, but the specific "expiration" date of any driver's previous physical will be noted on their medical certificate. Some medical examiners may wish to check drivers more frequently to monitor certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure.

Schedule Your Driver's DOT Physical Now

Your company may also opt to perform DOT physicals as part of the pre-employment process to ensure the driver is considered healthy enough to successfully fulfill the job requirements.

This Foley article answers some of the most-asked questions about DOT physicals.

When do my drivers need to take a drug test?

There are six specific occasions when a driver needs to take a DOT drug test. Below are the types of tests and what is involved with each one.

  • Pre-employment - You must receive a negative drug test result before any new driver begins operating a CMV. Answers to pre-employment drug screen questions can be found here.
  • Post-accident - You may be required to order a drug and alcohol test on a driver after they are involved in an accident while on-duty. Find out more here.
  • Random - All CDL drivers must be enrolled in a random drug testing consortium and be randomly tested throughout the year.
  • Reasonable suspicion - If any driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you have a right to order a test for them.
  • Return-to-duty - Any driver who tested positive for drugs or alcohol, refused to test, or violated any regulation regarding substance use and has completed the return-to-duty (RTD) process must produce a negative test result before returning to safety-sensitive duties.
  • Follow-up - After the RTD process is completed by a driver, they must complete at least six follow-up tests during a 12-month period, but it can be extended up to an additional four years.

You don't have to navigate all these tests on your own. Foley's drug and alcohol testing program makes everything from ordering tests to receiving results quick and painless.

If your CDL driver has tested positive for any substance and you're not sure what to do, this Foley article may help.

What does a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing policy include?

Your company should already have a drug and alcohol policy in place, but it should include additional information that relates to your safety-sensitive employees.

As a best practice, include the above drug and alcohol tests and their descriptions so employees know under which circumstances they may be selected for screenings.

This FMCSA checklist should be used to help develop a policy that checks all the boxes with your compliance requirements, specifically section two.

What's the best way to manage DOT compliance? Automation.

Now that you know what these DOT compliance matters involve, you might feel a little better about keeping your company compliant.

But you may also feel overwhelmed.

Don't worry! Foley helps professionals like you get the compliance solutions they need every day to make their jobs easier, so they can focus on other important business matters (like their day-to-day job duties). Our automated DOT compliance software ensures you're always following FMCSRs.

You don't have to just take our word for it, either. See why the Compliance Manager at Torc, an autonomous transportation innovator, said this:

I appreciate the effort from the Foley team. It has made my life a whole lot simpler. My mantra is always ARE: Audit Ready Everyday.

You can read the full Foley customer success story here.

Ready to leave DOT compliance stress behind and be audit-ready every day? Fill out the form and get started with a free software demo now.

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Whether you’re looking for a quick background check, or a comprehensive DOT compliance solution, Foley can help.