Compliance, Transportation

Driver Qualification (DQ) Files & the FMCSA

If your motor carrier company was audited by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the US Department of Transportation or DOT) would your Driver Qualification (DQ) files pass?

There is a lot of confusion about how to stay in compliance. What needs to be in the file, where to keep the file, and how long to keep the file.

What’s required in the DQ File?

Part § 391.51 of the FMCSR describes record keeping and retention for the Driver Qualification File.

A motor carrier of passengers operating CMVs in interstate commerce
must maintain a DQ file for each driver it employs (i.e., directly employs on its
payroll or leases) for the duration of the driver’s employment and for 3
years after that employment ends and must contain the following documents:

  1. Driver’s employment application form (§391.21).
  2. Response from each State agency regarding driver’s driving record
    for the 3 years prior to the driver’s employment by the current motor
    carrier (§391.23(a)(1)).
  3. Driver’s certificate of road test by current carrier employer or
    copy of driver’s CDL or previous employer’s certificate of road test
  4. Response of each State agency to current motor carrier’s annual
    driver record inquiry (§391.25(a)).
  5. Note confirming current motor carrier employer’s annual review of
    driver’s driving record (§391.25(c)(2));
  6. List or certificate of driver’s motor vehicle law or ordinance
    violation(s) for preceding 12 months (§391.27);
  7. Medical examiner’s certificate of physical qualification to drive a
    CMV or legitimate photographic copy of same. Or a copy of the
    driver’s driving record showing their confirmed medical status
  8. A note verifying the medical examiner is listed on the National
    Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (§391.51(b)(8));
  9. Letter of waiver or medical variance of any physical disqualification
    issued by FMCSA Field Administrator, Division Administrator or State
    Director (§391.49).

Driver’s Employment Application

Driver’s Employment Application Form must have the following information:

  1. Name, address, DOB, SS#
  2. Last three year addresses
  3. Date
  4. State, number, and exp. date of current, valid CDL
  5. Nature and extent of the driver’s experience
  6. List of all motor vehicle accidents past 3 years
  7. List of all motor vehicle convicted violations past 3 years
  8. Statement if DL has ever been revoked, denied, or suspended
  9. List of applicants previous employers for 3 years preceding the application date. The dates you were employed and the reason for leaving. And whether the employee was subject to the FMCSR and DOT regulated Alcohol or Controlled Substance testing
  10. For CDL drivers a list of the names and addresses of the applicant’s employers during the 7-year period preceding the 3 years mentioned above in which the applicant was an operator of a commercial motor vehicle. The dates of employment and the reasons for leaving.
  11. This line: “This certifies that this application was completed by me, and that all entries on it and information in it are true and complete to the best of my knowledge.” With applicant signature and date.
  12. Before an application is submitted, the motor carrier must inform the applicant that the information he/she provides in regards to the applicant’s previous employers will be contacted, for the purpose of investigating the applicant’s safety performance history information as required by the DOT. The prospective employer must also notify the driver in writing of his/her due process rights regarding information received as a result of these investigations.



You can purchase applications like the one pictured above from retailers such as Amazon or you can create your own so long as you include all the required items.

Our DOT Compliance Consultants can train your support staff in proper record keeping and retention.  We offer an online platform to confidentially store your electronic files and our Consultants will work with you to input your data.  Provisio Circle offers limited or full service management of these files.

For more detailed information on Driver Qualification Files please contact us.  Provisio Circle has DOT Compliance Consultants that specialize in DQ Files whether you have paper files or electronic records; we are ready to help.


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