Previous Employer Verification Requirements Set Forth by the FMCSA

driver hiring

You may be wondering what it takes to hire a driver for your company. Maybe you bought your first truck and you’re ready to expand, or you just want to refresh yourself on what the FMCSA says is required to legally employ a commercial motor vehicle driver.

All in all, the process is pretty straightforward. However, it can be time-consuming and sometimes a pain in the neck depending on how previous employers and applicants cooperate throughout the process. Hopefully, we can distill the steps down to make them simple and easy to understand. 

By no means is this a complete list of everything you need to know. You should always consider seeking professional guidance to ensure you have what you need to pass an audit and avoid fines from the DOT.

Here’s a basic list of what you need to do and collect. Be sure to read about each so you don’t miss anything. If any of these are missing or have discrepancies in the DQ file, which an auditor will most definitely find, you could find yourself in big trouble.

Overview:

  1. Collect Motor Vehicle Records from Each State the Applicant Holds a License or Permit in.
  2. Collect Applicant’s Safety Performance History / Accident record.
  3. Verify Drug and Alcohol Violations for the past 3 years.
  4. Conduct a Pre-Employment Drug Test (some exceptions).
  5. Obtain the Most Recent and Original Medical Examiners Certificate.
  6. Notify the Applicant of their Rights.


#1 – Obtain Motor Vehicle Records from each state the applicant has held a motor vehicle operator’s permit in OR a license dating back 3 years from the date you received the application. Stated in CFR §391.23(a)(1)). Furthermore, a copy of the applicant’s driving record from each state must be placed in the driver’s DQ (driver qualification) file within 30 days from the date that employment begins. If no records are received from one or more states, you must document a ‘good faith’ effort to obtain the records and to confirm that no such records exist.


#2 – Confirm and document applicants Safety History for the past 3 years from the date of the application. You must inform the applicant that you will be contacting their previous employers. And the scope of the conversations is limited to questions about the applicants’ safety history. Previous employers have 30 days to respond to your inquiries. Which can be made via telephone, letters, or any other means you deem appropriate to collect and document the required information. 

You must obtain the following information and add it to the DQ file within 30 days of employment beginning: 

The information must be stored and maintained throughout the drivers’ employment with your company and 3 years after termination.


#3 – Verify any Drug/Alcohol Violations with previous employers for the previous 3 years from the date of the application. In order to do this, the motor carrier (you) must send a copy of the written consent by the driver to the previous employer before making such inquiries. If there have been no violations, the previous employer is required to send a confirmation saying that said violations don’t exist.

Motor Carriers are required to attain documentation providing the following information: 


#4 – Conduct a Pre-Employment Drug Test. Every driver you intend to put into a commercial motor vehicle must be drug tested with negative results before being allowed to drive.

Exceptions to this rule include: 


#5 – Obtain the original medical examiner certificate (49 CFR §391.43) as well as any medical variances. As of May 21, 2014, you must also verify that the certificate is coming from a medical examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Once attained, you must store the records in the driver’s DQ file before you allow them to drive any commercial motor vehicle. These certificates are valid for 2 years except for drivers with specific medical conditions. For example, drivers taking blood pressure medication must be certified every 1 year. 


#6 – Inform the applicant about their rights while being considered for the position. 

Applicants have the following rights while going through the pre-employment screening process:


Motor carriers are required to maintain a qualification file for each of their drivers. The following checklist will help you ensure that each driver qualification file is complete.

Form/Inquiry/Note to IncludeMust Retain Document For
Inquiry To State Agencies for Driving Record – Annual — 49 CFR 391.25 (a) and (c)
Motor carriers must contact State agencies annually for an updated copy of each driver’s MVR.
3 years from the date of execution
Review of Driving Record – Annual — 49 CFR 391.25 (c) (2)
At least once every 12 months, the carrier must collect a current motor vehicle record (MVR) from the State issuing a driver’s license, and review the MVR to determine whether the driver still meets the minimum requirements for safe driving, and to confirm they are not disqualified pursuant to 49 CFR 391.15. A note including the name of the person who performed this review and the date must be retained in the file with the MVR.
3 years from the date of execution
Driver’s Certification of Violations – Annual — 49 CFR 391.27
At least once every 12 months, drivers must submit a list of all convicted violations of motor vehicle traffic laws and ordinances during the previous 12 months. Carrier must review this and compare it with the driver’s annual MVR. Note: Drivers who have provided information required by 49 CFR 383.31 need not repeat information in this annual list of violations.
3 years from the date of execution
Medical Examination Report and Medical Examiner’s Certificate — 49 CFR 391.43
All commercial drivers are required to pass a physical exam conducted by a licensed medical examiner at least once every 24 months. The carrier must retain a copy of this certificate. For CDL drivers; the carrier must retain a copy of the CDLIS motor vehicle record, which contains the examination information.
3 years from the date of execution
Employer note verifying that medical examiner is listed on National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners — Non-CDL drivers: 49 CFR 391.51(b)(9)(i)); CDL drivers: 49
CFR 391.51(b)(9)(ii))
A note must be included in the driver’s qualification file to verify that the medical examiner is listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
3 years from the date of execution
Driver’s Application for Employment — 49 CFR 391.21
A driver must not drive a CMV unless an application for employment is completed and signed.
3 years from the date of execution
Driver’s Road Test Certificate or Equivalent* — 49 CFR 391.31(e)
A person must not drive a commercial motor vehicle until he/she has successfully completed a road test and has been issued a certificate.
3 years from the date of execution
Inquiry to Previous Employers: Safety Performance History Records Request — 49 CFR 391.23(a)(1)and(b)
Carriers must investigate the driver’s employment record during the preceding three years.
This investigation must be completed within 30 days of the date employment begins. Carrier must retain a record of the request and all response documentation.
3 years from the date of execution
Safety Performance History Records: Driver Correction or Rebuttal (if applicable) — 49
CFR 391.23(i)(2) and 49 CFR 391.23(j)(3))
Carriers must maintain a record of both the request for a driver’s safety performance history and any related documentation, for example, if a driver documents that information in the history is inaccurate.
3 years from the date of execution
Inquiry To State Agencies for 3-Year Driving Record — 49 CFR 391.23(a)(1)and(b)
Carriers must contact State agencies for the driver’s MVR for the past three years. Request must be made within 30 days of hire. MVR must be kept in the driver’s personnel file, and updated annually. See “Review of Driving Record” entry above.
3 years from the date of execution
Pre-Employment Drug and Alcohol Documents — 49 CFR 40.25(j); 49 CFR 382.301
Employers must ask potential employees if they have tested positive or refused to test, on any pre-employment drug or alcohol test within the past three years. If the potential employee admits to having a positive test or refused to test, that individual must not perform safety-sensitive functions until the successful completion of the return-to-duty process. Documentation demonstrating completion of return-to-duty process must be retained in the driver qualification file.
3 years from the date of execution
Entry-Level Driver Training Certificate — 49 CFR 380.509(b)
All CDL drivers with less than one year of experience must provide this certificate.
3 years from the date of execution
Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) Driver Training Certificate — 49 CFR 380.401
A driver must not operate an LCV unless the driver can produce an LCV Driver Training Certificate or an LCV Driver Training Certificate of Grandfathering.
3 years from the date of execution
Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) Certificate of Grandfathering — 49 CFR 380.1113 years from the date of execution
Multiple-Employer Drivers — 49 CFR 391.633 years from the date of execution
Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate — 49 CFR 3 years from the date of execution