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Do Commercial Truck Drivers Undergo Background Checks?

Posted in Commercial Truck Accidents on October 24, 2018

Commercial trucking is an enormous industry. Currently, over one million people work in trucking in the U.S. The largest occupation in trucking is truck driving. Yet even with over 900,000 drivers, the trucking industry is experiencing a labor shortage. The number of drivers can’t meet the constantly increasing demand for consumer goods. The pressure to fill empty seats can lead to trucking companies expediting the hiring process – increasing the risk of unsafe and incompetent drivers.

Skipping background checks, ignoring drug tests, and illegally hiring certain convicted felons can increase the risk of dangerous truck drivers on the roads. Yet the normal hiring process also has gaps that may concern drivers. The Department of Transportation (DOT) makes certain screening programs mandatory for prospective commercial truckers, but does not obligate motor carriers to provide driver information to other carriers for the hiring process. Learn all the details of background checks in commercial trucking for more information.

What Does the Typical Truck Driver Hiring Process Look Like?

To become a commercial truck driver in the U.S, one must comply with federal general qualifications for drivers. A driver must be at least 21 (although some states have lower age limits for in-state transport), read and speak the English language, be able to safely operate a commercial vehicle, have a valid Class C driver’s license, and successfully complete a road test. Prospective drivers must also give potential employers a “list of violations,” or a list of all traffic law violation convictions the driver has received in the past 12 months.

The DOT requires a driving record background check, work history check, drug test, and medical certification before a trucking company can hire a new driver. The driving record background check involves looking at least at the past three years of the driver’s motor vehicle records to check for violations. However, it is largely up to the trucking company whether to hire someone with a criminal history. The only time the federal government might prevent someone from operating a commercial vehicle is if that person commits a crime while on the job.

Do Trucking Companies Hire Convicted Felons?

Yes, it is lawful for a trucking company to hire a convicted felon. Many companies even hire drivers with multiple criminal convictions. However, most truck companies have rules in place stipulating exceptions based on the type of crime, age of the felony, motor vehicle record, and work history. Most companies will still agree to hire a convicted felon as a truck driver, as long as they have a fairly steady work history, graduated truck driving school, and qualify for a commercial license. Note that many companies will not hire a driver who has had a reckless driving conviction.

If a driver receives a commercial driver’s license suspension, withdrawal, denial, or revocation, he or she cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle until the authorities restore the license and driving privileges. Conviction of any “disqualifying” crime can also take away a person’s right to operate a commercial truck, if the driver commits the offense on-duty while working for a commercial enterprise.

Disqualifying crimes include driving a commercial vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (with a blood alcohol content level of 0.04% or higher), refusing to undergo drug/alcohol testing, transporting or using unlawful drugs, hit-and-run, or any felony involving the use of a commercial vehicle. Disqualified drivers may not return to the job for one year after the date of a first conviction, or three years for subsequent offenses. Violating an out-of-service order can result in total disqualification for 90 days to five years.

If a commercial truck driver with a history of convicted felonies causes your truck accident in Georgia, you have rights. You may be able to file a claim against the trucking company for negligent hiring or training practices. Talk to an Atlanta truck accident lawyer to explore your legal options. Contact our team in Georgia today! (800) 242-2962