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Truck Driver Background Checks: A Complete Guide [2023]

truck driver background check

With the US Department of Transportation (DOT) heavily regulating the trucking and transportation industry, employers must follow strict industry standards when it comes to hiring new commercial drivers.

You can ensure that you offer positions to reliable, highly qualified truck drivers and transportation employees by conducting a comprehensive transportation background screening on every job candidate.

At iprospectcheck, we know the trucking industry and offer customizable transportation background checks and clinical services to help you get the information you need to confidently hire the best commercial driver for the job.

This article covers much of what you need to know about the background screening process for commercial drivers, including the various steps of the transportation background screening process and how you can manage state, federal, and industry compliance every step of the way.

Let’s dive in.

Why Should Trucking Companies Screen Applicants?

Trucking companies compete for drivers and have to balance their labor needs with the myriad regulations that govern the industry. Performing pre-employment background checks helps trucking carriers to find the right drivers while complying with their legal requirements.

1. Find Drivers Who Have the Right Skills

When you conduct a pre-employment background check with iprospectcheck, it’s easier to identify drivers who are a good match for your open jobs.

A background check that includes driver records will show whether your applicants have current CDLs with the right endorsements and the training that is required to drive your trucks.

This also helps to protect your company and ensure that it complies with the relevant laws.

2. Comply with FMCSA Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA enforces regulations on the trucking industry.

Under 49 CFR § 391.23, trucking companies are required to complete several specific background checks for each prospective truck driver, including a three-year check of the driver’s history in each state where he or she has held a license, a three-year check with the Department of Transportation of the driver’s safety record, information from each employer for whom the driver operated a commercial vehicle to verify employment and any accidents the driver might have had.

The background check must also include information about failed drug and alcohol screenings and refusals to test. By completing compliant background checks, you can help your company avoid fines, penalties, and other legal problems.

3. Screen Out Drivers with Histories of Reckless Driving

When you perform a pre-employment background check, you can identify applicants with poor driving histories. This is important for protecting your company from potential liability in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

If you fail to complete background checks on your applicants, you can be liable for negligent hiring if a driver causes an accident that seriously injures or kills other people.

4. Find Drivers That Comply with Regulations

When you make informed hiring decisions after conducting comprehensive background checks, you can also avoid hiring drivers who have a history of ignoring regulations.

For example, if you hire a driver who has previously altered his or her logbooks or has unplugged his or her electronic logging device to evade the hours-of-service rules, your company could be at risk.

Performing thorough background checks can protect your company from potential liability and help to ensure that you comply with FMCSA’s regulations.

Why Does DOT Require Background Checks for CDL Drivers?

The US Department of Transportation requires that all commercial drivers who utilize a commercial driver’s license (CDL) have a background screening process completed on them prior to being hired for a trucking or transportation job. This is to ensure the safety of the truck driver and other drivers on the road.

Truck drivers bear a lot of responsibility, including driving safely on the road, maintaining their trucks, and providing on-time deliveries. The DOT background screening process reveals important information about the potential employee’s driving record, employment history, safety performance history, physical ability to do the job effectively, and ability to pass a DOT drug screen.

What Shows Up on a DOT Background Check?

A DOT background check is comprehensive and searches a wide variety of historical information on a truck driver candidate. A background check that complies with the DOT regulations includes the following:

  • Motor vehicle records must be run for each state the driver held a driver’s license in the past three years. These records must be maintained in the driver qualification file.
  • A Safety Performance History must be gathered from all DOT-regulated employers the candidate worked for during the three years prior to the date of their application. This must be completed with the knowledge of the candidate. The employer has thirty days from the date employment begins to complete this investigation.
  • A verification of any drug or alcohol-related violations within the previous three years. The prospective employer will do this by providing the former employers with a signed consent from the candidate requesting a performance history.
  • A DOT drug test, which tests for marijuana, cocaine, opiates including opium and codeine derivatives, Amphetamines and methamphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).
  • A DOT Physical exam to ensure the truck driver is physically capable of performing the driving tasks safely. Once successfully passed, the employer will obtain a MEC (Medical Examiners Certificate) which is generally good for two years. Drivers with some medical conditions may require more frequent recertification.

8 Best Practices for Trucking Background Checks

When you implement your company’s pre-employment background check policies and procedures, you should use the following best practices to ensure that you are complying with all relevant laws.

1. Know the laws governing background checks.

Make sure that you understand the background checks that apply to your company, including local, state, and federal laws, and use them when you write your background check policies and procedures.

2. Hire a reputable background check provider like iprospectcheck.

Choose a reputable pre-employment background check company like iprospectcheck that can provide you with reliable and accurate reports. At iprospectcheck, we comply with all relevant laws that apply to background check reports.

3. Use the same process for every applicant.

By using the same process for every applicant, you can prevent claims of hiring discrimination while also ensuring that the process you use is fair.

4. Have drug and alcohol tests reviewed by a medical officer.

You should have a medical officer review any drug and alcohol results your company receives. This can help to confirm the accuracy of the results while protecting your applicants’ confidential medical information.

4. Provide a stand-alone disclosure form to each prospective driver.

Each prospective driver should be provided with a disclosure form to inform them that you intend to perform a pre-employment background check. You should include separate disclosure forms for federal and state background checks.

6. Obtain written consent before conducting background checks.

Before you can conduct a background check, you must obtain your applicant’s written consent and certify to iprospectcheck that you have secured the necessary authorization.

7. Provide a copy of the results to your applicants.

Make sure to provide a copy of the results of an applicant’s background check to the applicant together with a copy of the summary of their rights under the FCRA. Provide your applicants with the CRA’s contact information and allow them to dispute any inaccurate information.

8. Follow the FCRA’s adverse action process.

If you decide not to hire an applicant because of information from his or her background check report, make sure to follow the FCRA’s two-step adverse action process before finalizing your decision.

How Do Other Trucking Companies Conduct Background Checks?

The easiest and quickest way to obtain background check reports and DOT required screenings is to partner with a third party background check company such as iprospectcheck to correctly and efficiently conduct transportation background screenings.

iprospectcheck has years of experience handling the various DOT requirements for companies like yours.

What Kind of Background Check do Trucking Companies Do?

There are a variety of transportation background screenings you can run so long as they meet all state, federal, and industry standards, guidelines, and laws.

When you conduct background checks for your prospective drivers, you should request the following types of reports:

Commercial Driver Background Screening Package

  • DOT drug and alcohol screening panel – These panels are required by the FMCSA and include tests for opioids, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, and PCP.
  • Criminal history information – Look for convictions related to driving, alcohol, or drugs to identify drivers who are unsafe or who may require rehabilitative treatment.
  • Sex offender search – In general, registered sex offenders are not an appropriate choice for truck-driving positions.
  • License verification – A license verification can show you whether an applicant has a valid CDL and the endorsements needed for your open positions.
  • Employment verificationVerifying your drivers’ employment history is important for showing whether they are trustworthy.
  • Motor vehicle records check – The FMCSA requires trucking companies to check the motor vehicle records for the past three years in every state in which a driver has had a license. This type of check can also help you to identify patterns of bad driving.
  • DOT physicals – All prospective drivers must undergo DOT physicals to ensure that they are healthy enough to safely drive for extended hours.

Background check companies such as iprospectcheck provide background screening packages that include initial transportation background screenings as well as monthly management of your random monthly screenings.

This helps ensure your transportation employees are not involved in any illegal and potentially harmful behaviors.

iprospectcheck is Your Partner for Compliant and Comprehensive Transportation Background Screenings

The trucking and transportation industry has an extremely high turnover rate of 94%. This means you need to hire qualified drivers efficiently. At iprospectcheck, we work diligently and efficiently so your background checks and clinical services support your hiring efforts.

With extensive knowledge of the transportation industry, we ensure all background checks for CDL drivers are compliant and complete–providing you with the information you need to make the right hiring decisions.

Learn more about our transportation background screening capabilities. And contact us today to start the background screening process for your new trucking candidates now!

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.