Avoid Liability, Litigation, and Loss
by Identifying Unsafe Drivers

In 2014, there were more that 476,000 crashes involving large trucks and buses. Of these, 93,000 resulted in injury and 3,649 resulted in a fatality.

Even minor accidents may result in missed deliveries, out-of-service drivers and equipment, increased insurance costs, and time-consuming DOT audits.

More serious accidents often result in motor carrier litigation and liability.

Avoiding drivers with histories of bad judgment, substance abuse, or unsafe behavior is critical to maintaining a safe fleet.

Identifying drivers with negative histories begins with an employment application compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations’ (FMCSRs’) requirements. Such an application includes information not normally found on general employment applications.

The FMCSRs also require that employers use specific methods to ask former employers about drivers’ substance abuse and safety performance history.

Employers are also required to obtain copies of drivers driving history from states in which they are currently or have previously been licensed to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

The FMCSR Requirements are not enough to ensure driver safety.

Beyond the information available from previous DOT-regulated employers, reviewing drivers’ criminal history information can provide insight into their judgment, safety-awareness, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Even where the criminal history information may not be directly-related to the operation of a motor vehicle, recent offenses ranging from public intoxication to assault and homicide give insight into drivers’ fitness for the significant responsibility of operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Imperative works with motor carriers to ensure compliance with state and federal driver qualification requirements. And, beyond those requirements, we provide a thorough review of drivers’ past behavior – both inside out outside of the cab – to help ensure a safe and effective operation.

The Imperative DOT Background Investigation

Employers serious about the quality and safety of their driving workforce invest in high-quality background investigations before placing a new driver behind the wheel.

Time Service

The criminal portion of the background investigation is typically completed by the third business day.

Because former DOT-covered employers often take up to 30 days to make the required responses to the FMCSR-mandated inquiries, most motor carriers will go ahead and allow a driver to start work on the condition that the information eventually received from former employers is acceptable.


For the Imperative DOT Background Investigation, most employers can expect to invest between $235 and $250 per driver – or about a day’s wages and benefits for the average US driver.

Key Components

Identity Validation

This review of information from two credit bureaus and other consumer reference files will be used to identify the names and addresses associated with the applicant. Our trained analysts will use our internal best-practice guidelines to determine under which names and in which jurisdictions criminal research should be conducted.

This is not verification that the information provided by the applicant matches the records of the Social Security Administration or any government entity. Our Consent-Based SSN Verification product may be added to this report for true verification that the name, date of birth, and SSN match the records of the SSA.

Criminal History Research

We will conduct criminal research in all counties, states, and federal districts associated with the driver in the prior ten years.

And we’ll conduct that research under all names (aliases, maiden names, etc.) identified by the applicant as well as those developed during Basic Identity Research.

We will report all records that are legally reportable and usable by employers under federal and applicable state laws. No unnecessary 7-year limits unless requested.
Sometimes referred to as a “national” or “nationwide” criminal history search, this database contains millions of records from counties and states across the country, sex-offender registrations from all fifty states, the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s (OFAC) list of identified terrorists and other international criminals (often referred to as the Patriot Act search) and other sources.

Some states make only limited information available for inclusion in this database. Our experience is that this database will yield about 50% of the records we would otherwise find by conducting our thorough county-level criminal records searches. However the database is useful because it identifies potential records in counties where research otherwise might not have been conducted.

In order to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirement that we ensure maximum possible accuracy, any records found in the database will be verified with the originating county prior to being reported to our client.

The best source for criminal records are the actual criminal case indices of the local court clerks in the counties where an individual has lived, worked, or attended school.

98% of the records we report to our clients originate at the county level. (The remaining records come from the federal district courts.)

Each search will cover a minimum of ten years of criminal records in that jurisdiction – most will cover much longer periods. We’ll report everything that can legally be used by the employer under applicable state laws.

We’ll search the available criminal records databases, prison records, and sex offender registries in each state associated with the applicant’s address history, using all names strongly associated with the applicant.

Any records found in the state’s records will be verified with the originating county prior to being reported to our client.

While federal court records account for only 2% of the criminal records we report to our clients, they are always items of interest to our clients.

Federal court cases include bank robbery, insurance fraud, interstate drug and gun crimes, and kidnapping.

It is rare for an employer not to be concerned about an applicant’s federal criminal records.

Driving and Safety History

The weight of the motor vehicle and whether it is involved in interstate or intrastate commerce affect which of the following are required for commercial drivers.

Additionally, many states have adopted some or all of the FMCSR driver qualification requirements into their state law.

Imperative works with our clients to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met and documented in the driver qualification file.

FMCSR § 391.23 requires that employers check the driving history of candidates for defined safety-sensitive positions in each state where the driver has held a commercial license in the past three years. The Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) is the central database used to identify in which states a driver has held commercial licenses.

Imperative will retrieve the CDL history from CDLIS and then run a driving history on your candidate in each state identified by the CDLIS. Each state charges fees for access to their records, which will be added to the quoted price.

We also assist employers in obtaining the annual driving history reports required by FMCSR § 391.25.

For candidates in defined safety-sensitive positions, FMCSR § 391.23 requires that employers request the safety performance history of candidates from each DOT-regulated employer in the previous three years.

Additionally, under FMCSR § 40.25 and § 391.23, specific inquiries must be made to each former DOT-regulated employer that employed the driver within the previous three years in a safety-sensitive function that required alcohol and controlled substance testing. These inquiries pertain to any alcohol or controlled substance violations and failure to complete a mandated rehabilitation program.

We will diligently request this information from each employer upon receipt of the appropriate signed authorizations from your candidate. The candidate’s authorization must specifically authorize former employers to release information to both Imperative and the prospective employer.

Upon receipt of responses from each former employer, an electronic copy of each employer’s response will be included with our report for your files.

FMCSR § 391.23(g)(1) requires that employers respond to inquiries within 30 days. FMCSR § 391.23(c)(3) requires that prospective employers “report failures of previous employers to respond to an investigation to the FMCSA.” Imperative will make these reports on your behalf and provide a copy of each report for your files.

PSP reports include information about the FMCSA-reported crashes within the last five years and details about inspections within the last three years.

An FMCSA study has found that companies that use PSP have, on average, lowered their crash rates by 8% and driver out-of-service rates by 17%. In order to retrieve PSP reports, the employer must provide Imperative a signed Important Notice Regarding Background Reports from the PSP Online Service form from each driver.

Credentials and Experience Verification

We will diligently attempt to verify directly with a former supervisor, Human Resources department, or other authorized source the current and previous employment claims made by your applicant. The Imperative Background Investigation includes three current or prior employers. However, additional verifications can be added on request.