An Employer’s Guide to DOT Background Checks

An Employer's Guide to DOT Background Checks

Are you an employer offering commercial trucking services? If so, you’re familiar with the Department of Transportation (DOT). This federal agency governs the trucking industry and the highways of the United States.

As an employer, you may not be as familiar with the DOT’s background check for hiring qualified commercial truck drivers. Read on to learn more about what’s included in a DOT background check!

Motor Vehicle Records

One of the first DOT background check requirements are the motor vehicle records for an applicant driver. You’ll need to speak to your prospective employee about where they had a license to drive the past few years.

You will then need to get their driving records for each state where they’ve driven during that time. The DOT is looking for any criminal and civil traffic violations by a driver. Each violation raises a concern about their ability to drive safe in the future.

Employment Verification

An important part of the DOT driver background check is employment verification for the past three years. Unlike most employers that need to know who employed a person and for what dates, the DOT check goes further.

DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 391 defines the questions the DOT must have answered to proceed with an applicant driver’s licensing request.

Drug & Alcohol History Screen

You’ll need to complete a drug and alcohol screen for each potential employee. You can’t do it without knowing about the FMCSA Clearinghouse. You may be asking, ‘What is FMCSA Clearinghouse‘?

In 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established the Clearinghouse. This is a mandatory program that employers must use to report drug and alcohol violations by drivers.

During the drug and alcohol screen, you will learn about any violation for a driver in their past. You’ll want to avoid hiring a driver with a potential substance abuse issue.

Pre-Employment Drug Test

The DOT takes driver safety seriously and the pre-employment drug test is an important part of the hiring process. Besides a screen of a driver’s history with controlled substances, your new driver must submit to a DOT-compliant drug screening.

Some of the drugs the test will screen for include cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids. If your prospective employee fails this test, they cannot be hired by you as a commercial driver.

Physical Exam

The last part of a DOT background check is a prospective driver’s physical exam. A doctor that’s part of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners must do the exam.

The doctor will check a prospective driver’s vision, dexterity, and physical well-being. This helps the DOT ensure that the drivers they license have the physical and mental fitness to do the job.

Completing the DOT Background Check

The DOT background check is an essential part of the hiring process for a commercial driver. The USA has taken a vested interest in the safety of commercial drivers. In doing so, they are helping to make the nation’s roads safer for all.

Are you interested in learning about other important parts of the DOT regulations? Check out our blog section for other posts with helpful information to help guide you during the hiring process!


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