Essential Facts About Trucking Background Checks

Sadie . March 12, 2024

In the trucking world, background checks play a vital role in hiring. Truck drivers are often responsible for operating large, heavy commercial motor vehicles, making finding individuals with a clean and clear background crucial. The trucking industry faces extensive regulation to ensure that only qualified and safe drivers are behind the wheel. This article will explore seven essential facts about trucking background checks.

Types of Screening for Truck Drivers

When hiring truck drivers, transit companies must conduct various types of screening to ensure due diligence. These screenings include:

  • Criminal record checks: Employers must examine an applicant’s criminal background to identify potential red flags.
  • Motor vehicle reports: Trucking companies should obtain reports for every state where a driver has held a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to assess their driving history.
  • Drug and alcohol screening: To promote safety and identify potential substance abuse issues, trucking companies must conduct drug and alcohol tests.
  • Medical screening: Ensuring drivers are in good health is essential for safe operations, so medical screenings are necessary to assess drivers’ fitness for the job.
  • Certification of road safety test passage: Drivers must pass a road safety test to demonstrate their ability to handle commercial vehicles.
  • Verification of safe driving with prior employers: Trucking companies should verify a driver’s safe driving history with their previous employers.

Unique Aspects of Trucking Background Checks

Trucking background checks differ from regular ones due to the specific records and information they examine. Trucking companies focus on an individual’s driving record, searching for patterns of bad behavior on the roads. They also verify driver’s license endorsements and status to ensure proper licensing. These aspects set trucking background checks apart from other hiring processes.

Motor Vehicle Records, Reckless Driving History, and Drug & Alcohol Checks

Motor vehicle records (MVRs) are a cornerstone of trucking background checks. Trucking companies are required to investigate an applicant’s driving records in every state where they held a driver’s license for the prior three years. These records expose instances of reckless driving, DUIs, or other citations that suggest potential patterns of problematic driving behavior.

Reckless driving is one of the most common disqualifying factors for truck driving applicants. It involves actions that disregard the safety of others on the road, such as excessive speeding, ignoring traffic signals, swerving, or causing accidents. Trucking companies also conduct thorough drug and alcohol screenings to identify any potential substance abuse issues. Regular re-screening after hiring is essential to maintain safety standards.

Legal Requirements for Background Check Disclosure

Under the FCRA federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must furnish applicants with a full copy of their background report if the employer plans to take “adverse action” based on its findings. Some states require employers to make these reports available upon request. Failure to furnish the background check appropriately may lead to lawsuits and legal consequences.

Credit History and Trucking Background Checks

Trucking companies generally do not conduct credit checks as part of their background screening process. While personal credit records may be relevant for certain job positions, they are usually not a significant factor in the trucking industry. However, a credit check may be necessary if the job involves an equipment leasing agreement. In most cases, credit history does not play a significant role in becoming a truck driver.

Impact of Past Incidents on Truck Driver Employment

Past incidents can be a barrier to employment in the trucking industry, but they may not always be disqualifying. Trucking companies frequently take into account the duration since a problematic incident occurred. Severe crimes, such as multiple DUI convictions, violent felonies, or offenses involving assault or manslaughter, can be permanent barriers to obtaining a CDL and finding work as a truck driver. However, for less severe offenses, demonstrating a commitment to safety and a clean record can strengthen an applicant’s case for employment.

Best Practices for Trucking Background Checks

To conduct effective trucking background checks, trucking operators should follow these best practices:

Know the Laws Governing Background Checks

Trucking companies must have a working understanding of the laws that govern background checks. Familiarize yourself with federal requirements, such as those outlined by the FCRA, as well as any state or local laws that may apply. Compliance with these laws is important to avoid legal trouble.

Hire a Reputable Background Check Provider

Manual background checks are impractical due to the volume of information involved. Working with a reputable third-party provider ensures access to accurate and timely information while maintaining compliance. Reputable providers stay updated on evolving legislation and can offer valuable resources and insights for safe and smart hiring practices.

Use a Standardized Process

Treat all applicants equally to ensure fairness and avoid potential discrimination allegations. Implementing a standardized and repeatable process helps maintain consistency and allows for a thorough examination of an applicant’s suitability to drive.

Involve a Medical Officer in Substance Screening

To ensure accurate interpretation of substance screening reports, involve a licensed physician or medical officer in the process. These professionals can help interpret and understand the results of the screening panel, reducing the risk of misinterpretation and potential liabilities.

Provide Clear and Conspicuous Disclosure

According to the FCRA, businesses intending to use background checks must provide applicants with a standalone disclosure. This disclosure should clearly and prominently notify applicants of the intention to carry out a background check. It should not contain extraneous information and can be included in the application packet.

Obtain Written Consent from Applicants

In addition to the standalone disclosure, obtain written consent from applicants before ordering a background check. This consent can be collected at the same time the disclosure is provided. Properly documenting consent is crucial for compliance and record-keeping purposes.


Do you need a driving record to become a truck driver?

No, a perfect driving record is not necessary. While serious offenses such as DUIs can be significant barriers, minor traffic violations are not often disqualifying factors. Recent safe driving history and a commitment to road safety are more important.

Can you still be a truck driver if you have a DUI or DWI?

Possibly, but it depends on the circumstances. A first-time DUI conviction disqualifies an individual from obtaining a CDL and working in the industry for one year. Trucking companies may require additional time to pass before considering a driver with a past DUI. However, multiple DUI convictions permanently disqualify an individual from obtaining a CDL.

Can you verify if applicants have the right CDL endorsements and training?

By ordering a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), you can see the endorsements an individual driver has earned on their CDL. Endorsements typically indicate specific training, but following up with applicants for any additional training-related questions is essential.

What can cause a red flag on a trucking background check?

Serious traffic violations, felony criminal history, DUI convictions, and other signs of potential unsafe behavior or disregard for safety can raise red flags during a trucking background check.

What kind of background check do trucking companies perform?

Trucking companies use a multi-pronged approach to background checks, examining multiple sources of information. These include Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs), prior work history verification, drug testing, and general criminal background checks.

Can individuals with a criminal record become truck drivers?

Yes, depending on the nature of the criminal record. While certain felonies, such as violent crimes and DUIs, are disqualifying, some non-violent felonies or misdemeanors unrelated to driving safety may not be barriers to becoming a truck driver.


Trucking background checks are crucial for ensuring the safety and integrity of the industry. By conducting thorough screenings, trucking companies can identify qualified and safe drivers while complying with legal requirements. Understanding the unique aspects of trucking background checks, following best practices, and considering the relevance of past incidents can contribute to a robust hiring process. By prioritizing safety and diligence, the trucking industry can continue to thrive with trustworthy and capable drivers behind the wheel.

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