Mandated Qualifications for Commercial Driving Employment

Mandated Qualifications for Commercial Driving Employment

Federal and state laws mandate that drivers must follow a series of requirements in order to obtain commercial driver’s licenses. In addition, freight carriers are also obligated to follow rigorous background and hiring protocol in order to ensure that only properly licensed and trained drivers are out on the road. Each year, governmental regulatory agencies discover thousands of fraudulent truck drivers on the road. Common scams involve forging medical exams, purchasing a fake commercial driver’s license, or CDL, lying on applications about experience, and skirting training requirements. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have recently focused on cracking down on non-compliant freight carriers, high-risk drivers, and fraudulent activities through a variety of different programs. For instance, after catching drivers submitting forged medical exam cards, the FMCSA is now working on developing software that permits only authorized and certified medical examiners to submit exam results.

In an effort to encourage safe drivers on the road and crack down on fraud, regulators have introduced a variety of different rules, standards, and protocols for the trucking industry. These regulations begin with the driver. In order to drive for a trucking company, a driver must first obtain a CDL. First, the DMV will run a background check on the driver to ensure that the driver hasn’t for some reason been barred or disqualified from possessing a CDL. For instance, FMCSA does not allow drivers to possess CDLs in multiple states. In addition, the DMV will review the driver’s record and driving history for the past 10 years for every state in which the driver has ever held a license, including regular passenger vehicle driver’s licenses.

Federal laws establish minimum requirements for CDLs. The federal government is permitted to monitor and enforce CDL requirements because most truck drivers cross state lines when driving their routes. Federal law is permitted to govern interstate commerce. Driving from one state to another in order to deliver goods constitutes one form of interstate commerce. While the federal government does not issue CDLs, it can establish minimum guidelines. All states must have programs in place for licensure that either meet or exceed these minimum guidelines.

After passing the background check phase of the CDL application, the driver will be required to pass a knowledge test, which is usually a written test performed at the DMV. The driver may also be required to pass a driving test, which involves actually driving a large truck under the supervision of a DMV employee.

If the driver has passed all of the aforementioned requirements, the driver will obtain a CDL and can begin driving commercially for a carrier. However, a driver’s CDL can be revoked if the driver is convicted of a crime, drives with a blood alcohol content of over 0.04% or commits multiple serious traffic offenses.

Federal and state law also mandates that the trucking companies follow strict protocols in the hiring of drivers. The company must conduct a background check, train the driver, and maintain records of the driver. When combined, these mandatory documents comprise the driver’s qualification file. The driver qualification file must include:

  • The job application
  • Proof that the driver is certified and qualified to drive a commercial vehicle, such as a copy of the driver’s CDL or a road test
  • A background check that verifies employment for the past 3 years
  • Safety Performance History information
  • Driving record
  • A record that the driver reviewed this driving history
  • A list of any traffic violations
  • Medical certificate stating the driver is cleared to drive
  • Training certificate

This list is non-exhaustive and can be supplemented with other requirements depending upon the state’s laws surrounding commercial drivers. If a driver or trucking company violates federal or state laws, the driver’s right to drive and the company’s right to operate may be revoked.

Despite strict regulations, the trucking industry causes billions of dollars in damages each year due to truck-related accidents. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact myself, Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law, for free, personalized advice regarding your situation. My firm will only charge you if we are able to recover damages for you. Call my office now at (800) 856-5417, or send me an e-mail at to schedule a free consultation.