The Benefits of Online Driver Qualification File Management

Mar 19, 2023 | DOT, Driver File Qualification File Management

At DQM Connect we want to help you understand the ins and outs of driver qualification file management, from its purpose to its nuances. Commercial motor carriers are required to keep driver qualification files for each one of their commercial drivers because not only do they need to be able to prove that each driver is capable and qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle, but they must also maintain various records to ensure compliance with federal regulations.

The supporting documentation that needs to be recorded and kept is often not clear to companies, and at DQM Connect we can help you not only understand which records to keep, but also help you manage files in one online location that is easily accessible. By working with DQM Connect, you can easily keep track of your driver qualification file checklist 2023.


What Exactly is a Driver Qualification (DQ) File?

A driver qualification file, or a DQ file, is simply an organized collection of records that proves a driver is legally qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. There are several different pieces of documentation and paperwork that need to be completed by the employer including things like past driving records, medical tests, certifications, and employment verification.

If you have a proper driver qualification file, it will contain everything needed in case an audit arises as well. The federal regulations for DQ files can be found here in detail, but they generally include:


  • An initial Modal Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)
  • A pre-employment questionnaire (if one wasn’t included in the driver’s job application)
  • The driver’s application for employment with your company
  • Any certificate of violations
  • A certificate of the road test (unless the driver had to take a separate road test to attain their commercial driver’s license)
  • An annual review
  • A medical card
  • A skill performance evaluation certificate or medical exemption document (if a commercial vehicle driver has a medical exemption).


Individuals Who Need a Driver Qualification File

Within a DQ file management system each driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle needs a DQ file. Commercial motor vehicles generally include vehicles that are over 10,000 pounds, and/or transport hazardous materials, and/or carry at least eight passengers including the commercial motor vehicle driver.

Whether or not the driver of the vehicle is salaried or paid hourly, a part-time or full-time employee, is only driving on one route or many, works for a private company or is the actual owner of the company, a DQ file is still required.

Many people become confused about who exactly needs a driver qualification file because of the different weight requirements between a DQ file and a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). A CDL is needed if the vehicle weighs 26,001 pounds or more, but a DQ file is required if the vehicle is 10,001 pounds or heavier. Because of this nuanced specification, this means that commercial vehicle drivers who are driving a vehicle between 10,001 and 26,001 pounds and are not hauling hazardous materials do not necessarily need a CDL, but must still have a DQ file.This also means that even drivers of smaller sized pickup trucks that are transporting hazardous materials must have a DQ file and a CDL.


The Length of Time to Keep Various Records

Because the exact length of time to keep various records varies, having a thorough and organized online driver qualification file management system can help. With DQ file management software, DQM Connect keeps track of each of these different documents and the time required before they can be destroyed. You can use the following checklist as a helpful guideline to note how long various records need to be maintained:


  • Accident registers – three years
  • Negative drug test results – one year
  • Positive drug test results – five years
  • DVIRs with defects noted – 90 days
  • Driver qualification files themselves – the entire time the driver is employed and three years following departure
  • Inspection, maintenance, and repair records – one and a half years after the vehicle leaves the carrier’s control
  • Logs and supporting documentation –  six months
  • Medical examiner certificate for non-CDL drivers – 36 months
  • MVR associated with medical card – 36 months
  • The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners’ notes relating to verification of medical examiner listing – 36 months
  • MVR associated with annual reviews – 36 months
  • Documentation relating to the annual review of driver’s driving record – 36 months


If you’re interested in accessing further information regarding the official driver qualification file management checklist, you can do so here.


Let DQM Connect Provide Your Driver Qualification File Management System

Driver qualification file management is essential because keeping all of your files easily accessible and with strictly controlled access is important. At DQM Connect, our DQ file management software contains confidential and sensitive information protocols and ensures that all files are maintained in a secure location.

When your business makes it a priority to have a reliable and organized driver quality file management system, it shows you are a responsible company. By following FMCSC requirements, you can easily prove you are doing everything in your power to employ qualified and safe drivers.

If you do not maintain a proper DQ file management system, the Department of Transportation has the ability to conduct driver qualification file audits anytime they like. This usually happens when there is alarming safety data, a problem with compliance or safety regulations, or during a random audit. If and when your business is audited, it becomes especially important to have a highly organized and easily accessible DQ file management system already in place so that you can procure the paperwork requested immediately in order to confirm compliance and avoid stress.


Avoid Wasted Time and Money by Using DQM Connect’s DQ File Management Software

At DQM Connect we want to help you avoid wasted time, productivity, and the many costly fines that can be incurred for violations of driver qualification file management. Some of the most common violations and fines in the past have included:


Violation Type of Violation Average Fine Maximum Fine
Driver is operating a vehicle without having had a physical exam in the past two years. Critical $2,800 $11, 500
Carrier company does not keep a DQ file for each driver. Critical $1,236 $2,130
Driver operates a vehicle with more than one driver’s license or an invalid driver’s license. N/A $1,413 $3,580
Driver operates a vehicle while medically unqualified to do so. Acute $3,160 $11,220
Carrier company does not keep driving records from previous employers in DQ files (applies to drivers hired before Oct. 30, 2004). Critical $1,833 $2,680
DQ file does not have a copy of the driver’s medical certificate. Critical $1,577 $2,670
Driver is under 21 years old and operating a commercial vehicle for interstate commerce. N/A $1,201 $3,190


Contact DQM Connect Today to Get Started with a Reliable DQ File Management Program

We want to empower your company to be as automated and efficient as possible, reduce your stress, and help you dedicate more of your valuable time to growing your company. Our self managed DOT compliance software makes driver qualification file management simple. Reach out to us today by calling (530) 384-3884, emailing, or filling out our online demo form at the bottom of this webpage.

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