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The Top Driver Qualification Violations

As a motor carrier, you’re responsible for maintaining up-to-date files on all your drivers and implementing stringent procedures. Still, many trucking businesses find it challenging to manage the FMCSA requirements, leading to confusion, hefty fines, and penalties.

This problem is primarily due to clerical error, oversight, the driver withholding the information, or they aren’t aware of current FMCSA requirements. Unfortunately, failing to stay up-to-date on your driver qualification files (DQF) directly impacts your fleet’s safety rating. 

Therefore, keeping complete DQFs can help you avoid common driver qualification violations. Here we’ll discuss the top four driver qualification violations and how to avoid them.

Top Driver Qualification Violations

1.    Using a Physically Unqualified Driver

To operate a vehicle over 10,001 pounds, you have to pass your DOT physical exam. These exams are performed by certified specialists who evaluate a driver’s heart, lungs, eyes, spine, etc. They will also ask you about your medical history and what medications you’re taking if any. If you have a medical condition or take certain medications that cause drowsiness then you may not be qualified.

If you pass the exam then you get a medical card that’s good for 2 years unless told otherwise. You must have your drivers’ medical cards included on their DQFs.

2.    Being Disqualified and Driving a Commercial Vehicle 

It’s common knowledge that drivers shouldn’t get behind the wheel if they’re disqualified due to various convictions.

Despite this, getting behind the wheel after disqualification remains a top violation. Why? Because federal law holds motor carriers liable regardless of whether drivers notify them of convictions and offenses or not.

Drivers are “disqualified” if they commit an offense while on-duty and employed by a motor carrier engaged in commercial interstate, foreign, or intrastate commerce. Offenses that disqualify drivers may vary in duration based on their history of violations.

Some examples of convictions that make a driver disqualified are:

  • Drinking and driving
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident
  • Driving under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Texting and driving
  • Refusing a drug/alcohol test

3.    Failing to Look into Your Drivers’ Safety Performance History

Motor carriers have to investigate, document, and retain their drivers’ employment safety performance from the past three years. They can do this by contacting the applicant’s previous employer.

The history must include:

4.    Failing to Update Your Drivers’ Files

It’s required that you maintain and regularly update your drivers’ DQF.

A DQF must contain the following information to avoid any violations:

  • Drug and alcohol tests
  • A valid medical card
  • The driver’s employment application 
  • Safety performance history
  • Road test certificate
  • MVR record

The Bottom Line

If you believe you have committed the violations discussed above, you must take the appropriate action to correct the issue. Moreover, implement stringent policies and procedures to avoid potential problems in the future.

You must express the importance of honesty and communication with all your drivers. Remember, it’s your job to be aware of any violations your drivers have regardless of whether they tell you or not!


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