Fundamental Answers Regarding DOT Driver Qualification Files

driver-qualification-file-foldersAll Motor carriers are required by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to maintain a qualification file for the drivers they employ. A driver qualification file is a file featuring the certification and safety as well as the historical employment history of drivers employed by a motor carrier. All trucking companies are required to avail the driver qualification file whenever it is requested by the FMCSA, who operate under the regulation of the Department of Transport.

Trucking companies are required to keep a driver qualification file for every year they employ a driver. They also need to have records for three years prior to the end of employment. For companies that have been with drivers for less than three years, they will need to have records of past employers.

Who Requires a Driver Qualification File?

Any driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle is required to have a driver qualification file. This is a requirement for vehicles that are over 10,000 lbs. and transports at least 8 passengers. DQ files are a requirement whether the driver is a part-time temporary driver, the owner of the company or a mechanic.

It is important to note that the recommended commercial Driver’s License (CDL) criterion is 26,001 pounds while that of the driver qualification (DQ) file is 10,001 pounds. This means that interstate drivers with vehicles of carrying capacity of between 10,001 to 26,001(not hauling hazmat) must have a driver qualification file.

What are the Contents of a Driver Qualification File?

If you have been recently hired by a trucking company, you probably are wondering; do I need a driver qualification file, and what are some of its contents. In the past few years there have been changes on what should be included in a driver qualification file. Here is a closer insight on the documents that new and established trucking companies should maintain on a drivers DQ File.

The Employment Application

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires employment application to be filed even if you are an owner-operator. For an application to be considered by the FMCSA, there is specific information that should be filled out on the employment application. Keep in mind that this information may not be part of your standard employer application.

For instance, applications should include three years of previous employment, but this can be as high as 10 years for applicants applying for a job and operates vehicle with GCWR/GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds.

An Employee Previous or Current Record

The DQ file still features previous and current motor vehicle record (MVR) from the state that issued the driver’s license within a period of one year. Drivers that have a license from more than one state are required to have MVR for the states they are undertaking their operations. In case a driver has a CDL, they are required to have a list of employers they have worked for in last decade.

A Record of Safety Performance and Violations

Trucking companies are required to keep a detailed record of the safety performance and controlled substances or alcohol violations incurred by drivers. This also includes incidences of violations that happened during the time of their employment and the action taken by a trucking company. Take note that this does not include parking violations.

Copies of Road Tests, Training Certificates and Licenses

Trucking firms are required to keep copies of documentations that drivers need to operate legally. For drivers with a CDL, companies should maintain a current copy. They also must keep copies of certifications (longer combination vehicle, entry level) and road tests that drivers have earned.

Medical Certificate and Report

All drivers of a trucking company are required to be medically cleared before operating a motor vehicle. The certification must be updated every two years and should be undertaken by a medical examiner from the registry of certified medical examiners.

What Happens in case of ineffective Record Management?

There was an average of 3,500 enforcement cases with an average fine of $6,600 per company. The United States DOT is authorized to undertake drivers file audit in case there are incidences on safety regulations and compliance raised by the FMCSA.

If your trucking company has been audited, it is crucial that you have a driver qualification file software to make sure that you can conveniently produce files and paperwork that can confirm compliance. Trucking companies need to understand that once a driver is hired, managing their files can be a challenging task.

Therefore it is crucial for companies to consider the common driver qualification violations to prevent them from occurring in the firm’s qualification file management process.


Final Thoughts

DOT Driver Qualification Files are an important consideration for any motor carrier because it guarantees smooth operations. With the information provided by this in-depth guide trucking companies should be well informed on the important considerations regarding qualification files so that they do not incur hefty penalties.