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Understanding Your DOT-Required Background Checks
Below is an excerpt from our new ebook, “The Motor Carrier’s Guide to Hiring Drivers.”
AUGUST 11, 2016 – If you’re carrying freight on U.S. roadways, there are specific rules you must follow, as stipulated by the FMCSA, to ensure that you are employing qualified drivers and running a safe and compliant business.
Prior to hiring, carriers must do the following, and keep copies for their files:
- Obtain motor vehicle records from each state in which an applicant held a license or permit in the preceding three years. Copies of those records must be added to the driver qualification file within 30 days of employment. If none are received, that effort must be documented, and/or carriers must certify that no record exists.
- Investigate the driver’s past three years of safety performance history with all DOT-regulated employers. Correspondence with previous employers can comprise of letters, personal and telephone interviews, or other methods as determined by the hiring carrier. Everything must be recorded, documented and kept in the driver investigation file – including any good-faith effort to contact a previous employer that was unsuccessful. This history must include:
- General identification and employment verification
- Details on crashes the driver was involved in over the previous three years
- Any other information involving minor accidents that the previous employer wishes to provide
- Verify any previous drug or alcohol violations over the past three years. That includes: whether the driver has violated alcohol or controlled substances prohibitions over the past three years; whether they completed or failed to undertake a rehabilitation program prescribed by a substance abuse professional; whether they had positive test results or refused to be tested; and any testing violations following referral.
- Conduct a pre-employment drug test through which the driver must test negative. Drivers may be exempt if they have participated in a drug testing program in the past 30 days and were either tested for drugs in the past 6 months or were involved in a random drug screening in the past 12 months.
- Verify that that the driver has been certified by a medical examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. An original or legible copy must be kept in their file. Certificates are valid for 24 months, although drivers with specific medical conditions may require more frequent checks.
- Ensure that the driver has successfully completed a road test and has been issued a certificate.
Drivers have the right to review information provided by previous employers, as well as to dispute any findings. This could require a previous employer to resend the correct information, or, if an agreement can’t be made, allow the driver to include a rebuttal statement with the information. Drivers can submit a written request immediately upon applying or up to 30 days after being employed or denied employment. Prospective employers must provide information within 5 business days of the request.
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