Tim Thoelecke Jr.
January 2, 2023

What is the CDLIS?

And why should you be checking it not only once, but on a regular basis. It is essential in assisting businesses in conducting full background…

You might think that employee screening is something that only large companies need to do or can afford to do. It might sound like a tedious job with little benefit. However, you should keep in mind that if any of your employees break the law, the employer can be held accountable. And this is true especially when it comes to the transportation industry. If you don’t protect yourself against these occurrences, it can harm your company and even the well-being of your staff. Don’t be caught off guard and let everyone suffer as a result. It’s always better to be prepared than sorry. And this is why it is important to check the CDLIS regularly.

The CDLIS report is not mandatory, but essential in assisting businesses in conducting full background checks on prospective and existing drivers.

But what is the CDLIS?

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA) of 1986  established Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), which is based on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations in 49 CFR parts 383 and 384. The Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) is a nationwide computer system that helps state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) make sure that each commercial driver has only one driver license and one complete driver record.

SDLAs use the CDLIS to conduct commercial driver license (CDL) operations, such as:

  • Transmitting out-of-state convictions and withdrawals
  • Transferring the driver record when a CDL holder transfers to another state
  • Responding to inquiries on the status and history of drivers

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) CDLIS database is used to conduct commercial driver’s license searches in order to confirm the current state and license number of the driver as well as up to three past CDLs the driver may have had.

Order a CDLIS report along with your MVR and PSP report at Screeningwise 

What Information Does a CDLIS Report Include?

This database allows employers to check a driver’s current CDL, but also the past three CDLs he/she may have held in other states. In a CDLIS report, the employer can get this information about the new hire or an existing driver:

  • Current CDL license number
  • Current issuing state
  • Three prior CDLs held by the driver
  • May include aliases or former names, if applicable

After getting the CDLIS report and depending on the information received, the employer may order a MVR report for each of the licenses found.

Regulations and Violations

Let’s see what the employer responsibilities according to the regulations are:

§ 383.37 Employer responsibilities.

No employer may allow, require, permit, or authorize a driver to operate a CMV in the United States if he or she knows or should reasonably know that any of the following circumstances exist:

(a) During any period in which the driver does not have a current CLP or CDL or does not have a CLP or CDL with the proper class or endorsements. An employer may not use a driver to operate a CMV who violates any restriction on the driver’s CLP or CDL.

(b) During any period in which the driver has a CLP or CDL disqualified by a State, has lost the right to operate a CMV in a State, or has been disqualified from operating a CMV.

(c) During any period in which the driver has more than one CLP or CDL.

(d) During any period in which the driver, or the CMV he/she is driving, or the motor carrier operation, is subject to an out-of-service order.

(e) In violation of a Federal, State, or local law or regulation pertaining to railroad-highway grade crossings.

When a driver applies for a CDL or CLP, the state is expected to check the CDLIS to make sure he or she does not already have an active commercial driver’s license or permit in another state. However, this doesn’t always work as expected.

Because a CDLIS check isn’t necessary as part of the driver recruiting process, some CDL drivers may get behind the wheel without too much screening, placing themselves and their employers at danger of a fine if they’re pulled over for a traffic infraction or roadside inspection.

In addition to fines, any evidence of code violations may and will be used against you in court if the driver with multiple CDLs is involved in an accident that results in a lawsuit. Even if the driver’s license had no direct bearing on the accident, attorneys are looking for any indication of motor carrier carelessness.

The easiest approach to safeguard your company from a violation is to have your drivers go through a CDLIS rescreen on a regular basis to confirm they are operating under a single commercial driver’s license. If numerous CDLs are discovered, the driver must be removed from the job until the issue is resolved.

Order a CDLIS report along with your MVR and PSP report at Screeningwise 

Differences between MVR, PSP and CDLIS

Motor carriers and business owners should always make it a priority to screen their prospective drivers to make sure they are the right candidates for the job. And there are different driving reports that can help with this: MVR (Motor Vehicle Record), PSP (Pre-employment Screening Program) and CDLIS. This might be confusing at first and can make employers wonder whether they need all, some or any of these reports.

The MVR report is important as it allows you to check a driver’s license current status, as well as traffic offences and the driver’s history of suspensions or disqualifications.

The FMCSA PSP report contains the most recent 5 years of crash data and the most recent 3 years of roadside inspection data on CDL drivers, including serious safety violations.

The CDLIS report allows you to check the driver’s current CDL and up to 3 prior licenses held by the driver. If the CDLIS report shows that the driver has had licenses in other states, you can order a MVR for each license found.

Final Words

Getting a CDLIS report just for new hires is not enough. How often you check CDLIS for new information about your drivers can make all the difference. And you should do it probably more often than you think. Drivers operating on more than one CDL is one of the most common serious violations and the fines can be hefty.

Tim Thoelecke Jr.