Businesses that are regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) need to maintain a Driver Qualification (DQ) file in addition to standard employee documents. Driver qualifications are required for all interstate drivers who operate a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more.
Driver qualification files hold records and documents that ensure the employee meets the safety, health, and qualifications necessary to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), including owner-operators as they are considered both employers and employees.
While building and maintaining driver qualification files is time consuming, it is required by the DOT to maintain compliance. Save time and resources by having DISA manage your DQ file process. DISA leverages our experience to make sure your DQ files are always compliant and up to date.
WHAT IS REQUIRED IN A DRIVER QUALIFICATION FILE?
- Employment Application
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate
- Copy of Driver’s License
- Road Test Certificate
- Motor Vehicle Records
- Annual Driver’s Certificate of Violations
- Annual Driving Record Review
- Pre-Employment Drug & Alcohol Test Results
- Drug & Alcohol Testing Program/Policy
- Previous Employer Requests & Responses
- Entry-Level Training
Employment Application – The FMCSA requires an employment application to be on file even if you are an owner-operator and have to fill one out for yourself.
The following information is required on an employment application in order to be considered acceptable for the FMCSA, which may not typically appear on a standard employment application.
- 3 years of previous employment (10 years for applicants applying to a job who operate a vehicle with a GVWR/GCWR of 26,000 pounds or more)
- Nature and extent of the applicant’s experience operating a motor vehicle
- Moving violations over the past 3 years
- Accidents over the past 3 years
- Denial, revocation, or suspension of license to operate a motor vehicle
Medical Examiner’s Certificate – It is important that drivers are physically qualified to operate a CMV and must undergo a DOT medical evaluation at a minimum once every 24 months, but some are renewed at 12, 6, or 3-month intervals due to health conditions. A copy of the applicant’s medical certification must be kept on file and employers must maintain its valid status. The medical examiners status on the national registry must be verified and notated in the file.
Copy of Driver’s License – Current state driver’s license/CDL (commercial driver’s license).
Road Test Certificate – Drivers without CDL’s, or those driving doubles, triples, or tankers must be road tested.
Motor Vehicle Records – The employer must obtain MVR’s for every state the driver has held a license or permit over the last 3 years. This must be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.
Annual Driver’s Certificate of Violations – A list of any violations over the previous 12 months must be listed.
Annual Driving Record Review – Following the review of the MVRs and violations, the employer must maintain documentation of the driving record review on a yearly basis.
Pre-Employment Drug & Alcohol Test Results – This is the certificate of the negative, pre-employment, FMCSA drug test results. It is necessary for drivers who are required to hold a CDL. It is not specified under regulations to keep this in the driver qualification file, but it will likely be requested in the event of an audit. Motor carriers are not prohibited from maintaining them with the driver files.
Drug & Alcohol Testing Program/Policy – This is the page from the FMCSA drug policy that the driver signed. It is necessary for drivers who are required to hold a CDL. It is not specified under regulations to keep this in the driver qualification file, but it will likely be requested in the event of an audit. Motor carriers are not prohibited from maintaining them with the driver files.
Previous Employer Requests & Responses –Must maintain information from the previous 3 years of employment for all DOT-regulated positions and must include:
- A written authorization form from the applicant permitting an investigation to be conducted.
- Documented attempts made from previous employers who do not respond.
- Documented responses from previous DOT-regulated employers.
- Documentation if the employee held no previous DOT-regulated positions.
Entry-Level Training – All drivers are required to receive training under this rule with required certification by the motor carrier. All drivers with less than one year of commercial driving experience are required to complete training, which must be provided by the motor carrier surrounding four topics including:
- Driver Qualification, Medical Examinations, Drug/Alcohol Testing
- Hours of Service for Drivers
- Driver Wellness
- Whistleblower Protection
Drivers with more than one year of experience as outlined above may be “Grandfathered” into compliance if certain safety performance standards are met by the driver.
FMCSA Evidence of Safety Training – FMCSA regulation 392 requires that drivers are trained prior to performing regulated functions. This documentation is not mandated to be within the driver file but is often requested during an FMCSA audit and can be stored in the driver file.