Why the MVR Report Matters

Do you need to evaluate a candidate’s motor vehicle report before you hire them? In some industries, the law requires you to do so. Explore why the MVR report is a critical tool that you can’t afford to overlook for some positions.

Why Criminal Record Checks and the MVR Report Matter

For years, the transportation sector has faced a pressing concern: there simply aren’t enough drivers. That problem continues today and looks set to remain an issue for years. The resulting pressure can lead many business owners to start looking for ways to attract workers while reducing friction in the hiring process. Should time-consuming background checks and pulling an MVR report be on the chopping block?

The answer is a resounding no—and doing so could put your business at risk of violating the law. Why, though, is an MVR and background check so important? Background checks are usually expected in schools or law enforcement agencies. So what makes driver’s screening so different and critical?

Understanding what information such resources provide is a good place to begin.

What Is an MVR Background Check?

MVR is a “motor vehicle report,” which refers to a formal driving record every state maintains for all licensed drivers within their borders. MVRs report diverse information to help transportation employers decide who is most suitable for the position. MVRs often contain:

  • A driver’s license information and current status, such as valid, suspended, or revoked.
  • The type of commercial driver’s license someone has and the endorsements or special classifications they may have.
  • Records of any serious traffic violations or infractions.
  • Records of traffic crimes, such as vehicular manslaughter or DWI.

It’s important to note that though MVRs may sometimes report criminal information, it’s not a complete criminal background check. For a full picture of a candidate, you need to order both. The Department of Transportation requires that you order a candidate’s MVR from every state where they held a valid driver’s license for the previous three years. An annual review is mandatory, too.

Who Should Conduct a Pre-Employment Driving Record Check?

The Department of Transportation requires companies with specific thresholds to use MVRs in their hiring process or risk regulatory action. School bus drivers, truck drivers, airport shuttle operators, and many more all fall under the scope of these guidelines. If you aren’t sure if your business must follow these rules, consult the Department’s guidance based on number of passengers, gross vehicle weight, and other important factors.

What about other employers? There’s little reason to pull such a report for an individual working in an office or fast food restaurant—they don’t drive on company time. However, you may wish to learn how a candidate functions behind the wheel of a regular vehicle for a role as a warehouse forklift operator. You should look into their history when authorizing someone to drive a company car, even if they don’t transport passengers. 

The Benefits of Thorough Screening

Let’s step back and contemplate the big picture by asking, “What difference can an MVR make?” In other words, how can your operations benefit from adding an MVR check to your screening and selection process? There are four major points to consider.

Comply with the law

No company wants to wrangle with the government over regulatory violations. It’s distracting, expensive, time-consuming, and can reflect poorly on your business practices. When your company works in an industry where a driver’s license check is mandatory, compliance is always easier than coping with the consequences of non-compliance later. That’s not to mention the risk of hiring individuals without the right skills or background. If they have a serious accident on the job, your business might be liable—and you could face lawsuits in addition to action from the government.

Know who you’re about to hire

Companies use background checks because there is no other way to be sure that what an applicant tells you is true – as it is for someone’s record behind the wheel. Applicants can claim all the experience they want while saying they have a clear track record—until you pull their MVR and discover several convictions for drunk driving. Knowing who you’re about to hire is essential to every business. When the work involves vehicles in any capacity, it’s probably wise to review someone’s MVR if they must operate your vehicles.

Better manage risks and protect your reputation

There’s no predicting car accidents. Even a skilled, safe driver with a clean record could make a mistake that turns them into the at-fault party in an accident. However, some drivers are much more likely to pose a risk on the road than others. That’s why checking MVRs is so important—you should strive to hire those safe and clear drivers as often as possible. Otherwise, you cannot manage your risk levels as capably as possible.

Showcasing a track record of safety and reliability is good for your brand, too. When you can boast hundreds of thousands of miles with very few safety incidents, you appeal more to the average customer and other organizations who may wish to use your services. Everyone wants to know they have a safe driver.

Protect the public

The frightening headlines and tragic incidents following the rise of the rideshare industry speak directly to the need for thorough screening systems in transportation. Uber and Lyft have for years worked to refine their background check processes after public outcry. Avoid that kind of PR firestorm by investing in the right service providing access to the MVR for employers. Strive to hire people whom you can capably trust to protect public safety.

Does a Criminal Background Check Include Driving Records?

Earlier, we mentioned that DMV driving records might contain information you may also see on a criminal background check. In some cases, that information might not even appear there—a misdemeanor DUI might age out of a background check’s lookback period but still appear in the MVR. Should you expect to find driving records in a regular background check? You may wonder if you need to order two separate products.

The answer to this question is “no,” a criminal background check alone is insufficient to meet the Department of Transportation’s requirements. You must request the MVR. A background check can show charges that originated with crimes on the road. Still, you won’t find records of a speeding ticket here unless it escalates into a misdemeanor or felony crime such as “reckless driving.” Be sure you acquire all the data you need by ordering both reports.

Acquire the Tools You Need to Screen Candidates Effectively

No one should work behind the wheel without the proper vetting. The Department of Transportation’s regulations are clear on this point. Drivers who use drugs, drink and drive, or exhibit patterns of reckless behavior are not individuals you can legally hire. Reviewing a candidate’s motor vehicle record and running a background check isn’t just due diligence in the transportation sector—it’s a legal mandate. 

However, remember that not every business falls under the DOT’s purview. An MVR report remains advisable for employers who occasionally have workers drive company vehicles from site to site or operate equipment in one location. With support from a trusted reporting agency such as backgroundchecks.com, you can secure the information you need to make safer hires. 

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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