What Is a DOT Background Check? 8 Jul 2019


Your trucking business is under pressure. From maintenance to securing cargo, your company’s entire process has to overcome a mountain of legal regulations. Why are there so many procedures to follow?

Safety is vital for the transportation industry. One mistake on the road can destroy people’s lives — over 37,000 people die in automobile crashes in the U.S. each year. Legal regulations ensure your drivers are careful on the road.

How can you follow the regulations when hiring? The Department of Transportation (DOT) background check helps you uncover safety issues before they ruin your business. Let’s see how using a DOT background check helps your business, what it includes, and how you can run it legally.

DOT Background Checks Are Your Business’s Safety Net

Using DOT’s list of background checks protects your business from unsafe hires. The DOT background check is a process designed by the U.S. government to solve the transportation industry’s hiring concerns. Every company regulated by the Department of Transportation needs to run this screening. How does a DOT background check help your company?

It prevents safety problems and pinpoints the right new hire. By using industry-specific background checks, you know whether a potential driver can safely and legally drive for you. Combined, these checks show which applicant is the best fit for your business.

A DOT check also shields your business from many legal problems. Semitruck accidents cost companies $20 billion in settlements each year. Employing safe drivers saves your business from huge legal fees.

A DOT background check is also essential for your hiring process, but you have to use all the required checks for it to be effective. Which background checks are required?

Which Background Checks Does the DOT Require?

Each DOT background check reveals vital information about job candidates. Here are the background checks you need to run a DOT check:

  • Drug and alcohol panel. A DOT drug panel includes cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, marijuana, and PCP. If applicants fail a drug test, they can’t legally be on the road.
  • Employment history. To follow the DOT’s legal requirements, you need to get a driver’s employment history from the past three years. An applicant’s work history can uncover any lies about their previous employment. It also reveals if the applicant had unsafe driving practices at another job.
  • Medical certification. Drivers need to have an up-to-date medical certification to drive a commercial vehicle. A medical assessment ensures that applicants have no problem driving for long periods.
  • Motor vehicle record check. An applicant’s driving record shows whether they have a history of safe driving. You need to check an applicant’s motor vehicle record from every state they’ve been licensed in during the last three years.
  • Road test. Your vehicles may have special modifications or features. Having candidates do a road test ensures they can handle your semitrucks.

Now that you know which background checks are included, it’s time to run your screening program. However, you have to follow the legal requirements carefully. Next, let’s find out how to run a DOT background check.

Business owner doing research before running a DOT background check

How Do You Run a DOT Background Check?

Running a DOT background check is similar to running other kinds of background checks. It just requires more research beforehand. These steps will help you use a DOT check effectively:

  • Research the DOT’s requirements. Figure out what obligations you have as the employer. For example, employers must provide a list of substance-abuse specialists to applicants who fail the drug test.
  • Use a stand-alone disclosure form and waiver. Have the applicant sign the waiver before running any background checks. Don’t include any extra information on the disclosure, and keep state and federal disclosures separate.
  • Employ an accurate background check company. Check what policies the company has to ensure its results are correct.
  • Have a medical review officer (MRO) review drug and alcohol test results. A certified MRO will verify results and keep applicants’ personal medical information private.
  • Send the job candidate a copy of the background check results. Include a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA.”
  • Consider the results carefully. Make sure your hiring decision is based on information that is relevant to the job.
  • If you’re considering not hiring someone because of their background check results, use an adverse action process before making the final decision. 

You’re now prepared to run a DOT background check. Following these steps gives your hiring process the tools it needs to uncover the right hire.

DOT Background Checks Are More Than a Legal Requirement

Your business has to comply with many legal regulations. Thankfully, a DOT background check process helps your company stay legally compliant. Using the list of DOT-required checks protects your business from safety and legal issues. For example, it prevents unsafe hires from becoming part of your workforce.

Running a DOT background check doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to do some research first. In the end, DOT checks keep your business safe so you can keep trucking for years to come.