For owner-operators, it’s critical for your business to stay in compliance with government regulations. Here’s an Owner Operator DOT compliance checklist to help you stay on top of the most common compliance requirements.
1) Drug and Alcohol Testing
Owner-operators are required to participate in a Department of Transportation (DOT) Drug and Alcohol testing program. A consortium/third-party administrator manages testing. A Consortium includes drivers from other companies in one random selection pool. If the consortium is compliant with the FMCSA random testing rates, then so are all the members of the pool.
Register with a DOT Consortium to stay compliant. Learn more about drug and alcohol testing via the DOT Employer Handbook.
2) FMCSA Clearinghouse
Owner Operators are required to select a C/TPA in the Clearinghouse. Your annual consortium dues with InOut Lab include our Clearinghouse services for you. You still need to register and select InOut Labs as your C/TPA and purchase queries.
Like other employers, Owner Operators are required to query themselves annually, or have a C/TPA do it for you.
Note: For the purposes of the Clearinghouse, if the owner is also a driver, you are an Owner Operator. For the InOut Labs consortium, an Owner Operator is a one-employee company where the owner is the driver.
3) Written Substance Abuse Policy
The FMCSA does not specifically exempt Owner Operators from having a written policy. If you join our program, you will be provided with a simple template tailored for Owner Op in the event an auditor asks for one. If you hire other drivers, the rules change though, and you will need a proper written policy. If this occurs, we offer one at a very fair price.
4) Supervisor Training
Supervisor Reasonable Suspicion Training is required for all DOT employers, EXCEPT Owner Operators. You are off the hook for this one. But if you hire another driver you will need to complete. See here for an affordable option.
5) Driver Qualification file (DQ File)
The FMCSA requires that trucking companies must keep a driver qualification file (www.inoutlabs.com/dqfiles) for every driver. If you’re an owner-operator, this means you. It has to be maintained for the past three years and has eight parts:
- Employee application must contain the mandatory information
- Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) for every state you held a commercial license or permit
- MVR for the previous three years
- Every year you must do an MVR review and note who did the review and the date. Also, identify any violations of FMCSA regulations.
- Record of violations is a list of any violations in the previous 12 months. You need this even if you don’t have any violations (parking tickets don’t have to be included)
- A copy of your commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Medical Examiners Certificate (or copy), which is valid for up to 24 months
- A note verifying that the medical examiner was on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners List
InOut Labs offers a software tool that is Free for up to 5 drivers. Sign up here.
You will also need to understand Hours of Service rules, which dictate how many hours you can drive without taking a break. It’s not enough to follow the rules. You have to prove you’ve followed them. HOS compliance is also considered one of the biggest fleet manager responsibilities.
FMCSA- compliant Electronic logging devices (ELDs) can help you keep track of all this information. These devices automatically record all driving time and location information for you.
6) Complete a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) daily
A DVIR is a pre-trip inspection of items such as brakes, lights, and tires. It ensures a vehicle is fit for the road. Commercial drivers are required by federal law to complete a DVIR.
InOut Labs is here to help companies of all sizes, including Owner Operators, stay compliant with the tangled web of DOT regulations.