Driver Qualification File Service, Including Driver Safety


In the interest of safety on our highways, every company involved in interstate transportation by definition of the Federal Department of Transportation is determined to be a motor carrier subject to all federal motor carrier safety regulations (FMCSRs) found in federal code 49 CFR Parts 382-399. Any company employing commercial drivers must abide by the parts of the regulations that apply to the employer, and each employer must instruct each commercial driver regarding their responsibilities under these federal safety regulations. As a requirement under 49 CFR part 391, each employer is required to establish and maintain Driver Qualification Files on each commercial driver it employs, and to make those DQFs available to the DOT in the event of an audit or accident, or investigation by a state or federal agency.

DQF Requirements

All for hire, and/or private companies engaged in interstate transportation are subject to all FMCSRs including establishing Driver Qualification Files. Every operator of a commercial motor vehicle over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight must have a DQF and a valid medical card.  Even owner-operators must maintain a DQF on themselves. Each DQF contains all required driver safety information as mandated by Part 391. This file must contain at minimum the following information. 

  • Driver’s Application for Employment
  • An Inquiry into the Driver’s Driving Record from Every State Where Driver Held a CDL or Permit during Past Three Years
  • An Investigation into the Driver’s Employment Record
  • Safety Performance History For Previous Three Years
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing Information For Previous Three Years from any DOT Regulated Employer
  • Annual review of driving records
  • Annual Drivers Record of Violations
  • Copy of valid Medical Card
  • Self-Certification Driving Record
  • Copy of Valid CDL
  • Certificate of Road Test or Equivalent
  • Driver's statement of On-Duty Hours for Newly Hired Drivers

Changes to the Regulation/Self-Certification

As of January 30, 2012, for each operator of a commercial motor vehicle required to have a commercial driver's license, the current licensing State must:

  • Require the driver to certify as to the type of operation the driver expects to conduct and post the driver's self-certification to the State's driver history record (See self-certification FAQ's);
  • Obtain the original or a copy of the medical examiner's certificate documenting that the driver is physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle and retain the certificate for three years beyond the issue date of the certificate; and
  • Post the information from the medical examiner's certificate within 10 business days to the CDLIS driver record.

Within 10 calendar days of receiving information from FMCSA regarding issuance or renewal of a medical variance for a driver, the State must update the CDLIS driver record to include the medical variance information provided by FMCSA.

Within 10 calendar days of the expiration or recission of a driver's medical certification status or a medical variance, the State must:

  • Update the medical certification status of that driver as "not-certified."
  • Notify the CDL holder of the "not-certified" medical status and that the driver's CDL privileges will be rescinded unless the driver submits a current medical certificate and/or medical variance, or changes his or her self-certification to driving only in excepted interstate or intrastate commerce (if permitted by the State).
  • Initiate State procedures for downgrading the license, and complete and record the CDL downgrade within 60 days of the change in the driver's medical certification status to "not-certified."

What is the Time Frame to Establish a DQF?

FMCSA requires that each new driver have a completed DQF within thirty days of hire.

Investigation of Driving Records

The employer must contact all appropriate state agencies to request the driving record for each state where the driver held a CDL or permit in the past three years.

What Is the Extent Of An Investigation Into The Driver's Employment History?

The investigation must include communication with every DOT regulated past employer listed on the application for the preceding three years. Established DOT procedures are in place to satisfy this federal requirement in the event previous employers cannot or will not provide the required information. A carrier must document a good faith effort to obtain the drug and alcohol history and safety performance history of every commercial driver within 30 days of hire.

What If We Fail To Implement DQFs for Our Commercial Drivers?

Failure to establish and maintain Driver Qualification Files carries a civil penalty under existing regulations. Under section 521 of the federal code, any person or company who is determined to have committed an act which is in violation of the Motor Carrier Safety Act, may be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 per offense.

Enroll in the DQF Service

For an easy cost-effective way to set up initial DQF Files, simply contact the Transportation Advisor at 800-608-8890.