Authored By W.Barry Nixon, SHRM- CMP
Motor Vehicle Records checks are a necessity for any business that has vehicles supporting business operations, from personal passenger vehicles, to fleets of delivery trucks.
MVRs have become a regular part of the background screening process due to motor vehicle accidents being recognized as the leading cause of occupational fatalities in the workplace. In fact, more than 20 million drivers are involved in accidents each year and more than 250 billion dollars are spent annually on motor vehicle accidents.
MVR checks help identify high-risk drivers before accidents occur by revealing insurance lapses, traffic violations, accidents, license revocations, DUI charges that may not appear on criminal records, and an accurate record of previous addresses.
It is important to note, however, that several key federal laws govern the use of MRVs and that companies that do not comply face the risk of lawsuits and government penalties.
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 is the primary law that restricts state DMVs from disclosing personally identifiable driver records without first obtaining the driver’s expressed written consent. There are some exceptions, however, including the release of information for purposes related to “safety of the operation of a motor vehicle.” Potential hires, however, should be advised that, should the company disclose or misuse the information, a civil lawsuit may be filed, suing for actual and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, costs, and equitable relief.
Thirty-nine states have enacted laws that require a company to notify employees when the security of personal information is breached, while 12 states have laws that govern the manner in which companies dispose of any personally identifiable information, such as shredding paper documents or erasing hard drive data.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes the minimum background screening requirements for firms that hire commercially licensed drivers. If the company’s fleet operates commercial motor vehicles, it is subject to U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations. The DOT driver qualification file requirements include: 1. An application that is signed and dated by the driver, with a 10-year employment history; 2. Three years of commercial driving experience; and 3. an MVR check at the time of hire, as well as annually or, in some cases, every six months.
Investigators should also ensure that clients are aware that DOT requires road test and certifications; written tests and certifications; a DOT physical; drug testing; a three-year record of inquiries of previous employers; certification of violations; review of driving records; a copy of a valid driver’s license; and other miscellaneous, but strongly recommended details.
Use of Infinity Screening software can ensure on-going screening of employees takes place. This proactive screening approach will contribute to vehicle or fleet safety, reduce liability, and ensure the organization is compliant with legal requirements.