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DOT Employment Verification – Understanding the Regulations and Compliance Standards

Millions of people get hurt on the road each year, and some of those accidents involve drivers operating commercial vehicles. Employers in the transportation industry must use DOT employment verification to hire safe drivers and stay compliant with screening regulations.

The DOT background check process looks into the driving history, medical certification and employment history of job applicants who will operate a DOT-covered vehicle. Learn what to expect from the DOT background check process and how to stay compliant.

Drug and Alcohol Screening

In DOT employment verification, drug and alcohol screening is an important part of a comprehensive background check. The DOT requires all transportation workers in safety-sensitive positions to be tested for drugs and alcohol. The DOT’s 49 CFR Part 40 regulates drug testing procedures for employees in aviation, trucking, transit, rail, pipeline and maritime industries. Pre-employment DOT drug tests require all potential new hires to submit a 5-panel urine test to screen for marijuana, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), amphetamines and opiates.

In addition to the initial pre-employment drug test, DOT rules require random and suspicion based testing, employers should undergo reasonable suspicion training in order to effectively conduct drug testing on current employees who perform safety-sensitive functions. DOT also mandates that follow-up tests be run on any employees who have been found to have violated a DOT drug and alcohol rule. These follow-up tests are conducted under direct observation. There have also been developments on using oral fluids like saliva to identify any DOT violations, and you can view the latest updates on drug testing using DOT oral fluid here.

When an employer wants to hire a CDL driver, it is required to query the Clearinghouse for information on the driver’s history of positive and negative test results and refusals to test. The Clearinghouse is accessible by phone, fax or email, and all queries must be made using a form that ensures confidentiality. Employees can review their information, dispute any inaccurate information and attach a rebuttal statement to the request. The DOT requires that an employee found to have violated a drug or alcohol regulation be evaluated by a substance abuse professional (SAP) and comply with all return-to-duty requirements (including follow-up testing) before being allowed back on the job.

Driver Qualification Files (DQFs)

To keep employees safe on the road, companies regulated by the Department of Transportation must conduct DOT background checks and maintain DQ Files for each commercial driver. DQ Files contain detailed information about a driver’s previous three years of employment, including MVRs, driving history records from each state where the driver held a license, drug and alcohol test results, training certificates, rehire eligibility dates and more.

DQ files take time to build and maintain, though these days, this process has been simplified by the development of DQ File Software which centralizes the storage of important data.

DOT regulations specify the types of queries that must be asked of and answered by drivers without exception. Obtaining the necessary employment details, such as period of service, equipment operated, loads hauled, driver status/experience, the reason for leaving, and more, can be challenging, especially when dealing with multiple prior employers or when a former employee does not respond.

Using an experienced background screening partner to perform these DOT verifications can help reduce your company’s risk of hiring a driver with a disqualifying condition that could result in a crash and costly lawsuits. A good partner will also provide reminders when MVRs need to be re-reviewed for rehire and other guidance to make sure your company stays compliant. Contact us today to learn more about how Accurate can help you with your DOT compliance needs. We will work with you to ensure that your screening process is smooth and seamless from beginning to end.

Driver Record Retention

A DOT background check thoroughly investigates all aspects of a job applicant’s driving history and physical health to ensure they are qualified to operate commercial vehicles safely. This in-depth process takes multiple steps and involves consulting FMCSA databases, previous employers, medical professionals, and more. But it’s not just about complying with government regulations—it’s also a great way to protect your business from driver-related accidents, injuries, and expensive negligent hiring lawsuits.

You can conduct DOT employment verification yourself or use a third-party service, a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), specializing in DOT- compliant background checks. Whichever route you take, tell the candidate you are performing a background check and get their written consent to access their records.

The DOT verification process requires contacting each candidate’s previous employers and asking specific questions outlined in DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 391. Each former employer must either send a record of accidents and violations or confirm that they had none. This information is placed in each candidate’s driver investigation history file.

You must also review each driver’s MCMIS (FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System) data to see their crash and roadside inspection histories. This federal database features information about drivers from up to five years ago and is available for $10 per driver.

Performing Due Diligence

Performing due diligence is a critical part of the DOT employment verification process. This includes contacting past employers of DOT-regulated drivers to verify that they did work for the company and check their records for any drug and alcohol test results. It also requires conducting a motor vehicle record check on the driver’s driving history for the previous three years.

This investigation is more detailed than most companies conducting traditional background checks on job candidates. It asks for information that could impact the driver’s ability to operate a commercial vehicle, such as an alcohol test with a result of 0.04% or refusals to take any drug or alcohol tests. It also investigates medical conditions that may affect a driver’s safety and abilities behind the wheel, including any impairments to cognition such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia or sensory disorders like blindness or deafness.

Whether you’re looking for pizza delivery drivers or long-haul truckers, it’s important to understand the DOT employment verification regulations that are in place to keep people safe and protect your business from expensive fines and liability. Complying with the FMCSA’s requirements can reduce the risk of serious accidents that could lead to road injuries and fatalities. Using an experienced and reliable DOT employment verification service, you can rest assured that your new hires are qualified and compliant.