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Why You Must be Running CDLIS Checks on Drivers
5 mins read
With a driver shortage in full effect—and supply chains suffering as a result—it might be tempting these days to hire any driver willing to take to the road.


But despite the crisis, it is important to remain as diligent as ever, lest you suffer consequences in the way of fines and violations for non-compliance.

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One critical first step to remain compliant when it comes to your drivers? Performing regular checks of the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS).

The CDLIS and What it Shows

The CDLIS is a nationwide computer system based on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. It enables state driver’s licensing agencies to complete numerous procedures, such as transmitting out-of-state convictions and CDL withdrawals, or transferring a commercial driver’s license holder’s record when they move to another state.

Ideally, when a driver registers for a CDL in a given state, that state is required to query the CDLIS. This is to ensure that they have only one driver’s license and one complete driver record, and don’t hold any active CDLs or permits in other states.

However, this process doesn’t always reveal the full picture, so many drivers holding multiple CDLs are still able to get behind the wheel undetected.

This is why performing your own query of the CDLIS upon hiring (and regularly once a driver is hired) is critical. The report provides information on a driver’s current CDL number and issuing state, as well as the other states where they have held (or continue to hold) a CDL—either under their current name, former name, or any aliases. You can then run motor vehicle (MVR) reports to ensure that there have been no serious issues, such as accidents, misdemeanor moving violations or convictions, DUIs, or safety violations.

This all provides you a more complete picture of a driver’s history to aid in the hiring decision. Or, in the case of existing drivers, a suspension or firing decision.

The Potential Consequences

According to FMCSA regulation, no employer shall “allow, require, permit, or authorize” drivers to operate a CMV in the U.S. if they know “or should reasonably know” that the driver has more than one CDL.

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“Should reasonably know” is the key phrase here. It means that, whether you run a CDLIS check or not, you are on the hook if you employ a driver holding multiple CDLs. If that driver is stopped for either a traffic violation or a roadside inspection, you could be hit with significant fines once their background is revealed.

According to the FMCSA, one of the fourth most common violations in the Driver Qualifications category is a driver not having a valid operator’s license for the CMV they are operating. Other top violations in this category include drivers operating a CMV without the proper endorsements or in violation of restrictions; while being disqualified or suspended for safety-related or unknown violations; or while being disqualified or suspended for non-safety-related reasons.

And with the agency having once again increased its fine amounts, this means that just one violation in this category could cost you $5,902. Not to mention the cost of re-training, hiring a new driver, and the hit your business could take to its reputation.

Protecting Yourself

 Keeping in compliance and avoiding violations means running CDLIS screens and background checks on all new drivers, and also regularly re-screening all of your drivers to ensure that they’re operating with a single commercial driver’s license—and, what’s more, that that license is valid and in good standing.

Drivers discovered to be holding multiple CDLs, or those flagged for other MVR issues, must be immediately pulled from road service until their situation is rectified.

All this might sound like a lot to keep track of, so consider partnering with a company like Foley to ensure that CDLIS reports, MVRs and other essential background screens are performed with accuracy and compliance. Our automated solution also provides 24/7 MVR monitoring, and keeps your Driver Qualification Files up-to-date and audit ready.

Because ultimately, we all want to keep unsafe drivers, and those holding multiple CDLs, off the road—and ensure that only the safest, most qualified drivers are behind the wheel.

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