§391.15 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) outlines the grounds that disqualify a driver from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.
Driver disqualification is a serious matter. A disqualified driver means more paperwork, lost time on the road, and reduced profit. Plus, it can put your company at risk of legal action.
National Transportation Consultants specializes in safety training and fleet management services to make sure you and your drivers stay in compliance. Our safety enforcement professionals offer customized solutions, because no two fleets are the same.
Does 391.15 apply to my drivers?
FMCSR Part 391 applies generally to drivers who operate CMVs above 10,000 pounds GVWR, when the vehicle is used in interstate commerce.
Per the regulations, a disqualified driver shall not drive a CMV. If a driver is disqualified, motor carriers shall not require or permit them to drive a CMV.
What disqualifies a driver under 391.15?
FMCSR §391.15 outlines five main conditions (b-f) that could disqualify a driver from operating a CMV.
391.15(b) – Disqualification for loss of driving privileges
Drivers that lose their operator’s license, either temporarily or permanently, lose their driving privileges or are disqualified from driving CMVs used in interstate commerce.
A driver may lose their license and their driving privileges due to:
If a driver loses their driving privileges in any state, they are disqualified from driving until the authority that revoked those privileges reinstates them.
It is the driver’s responsibility to inform you, as their employer, before the end of the next business day if they have lost their driving privileges. As a motor carrier, you must also request Motor Vehicle Reports on all your current drivers at least once every 12 months.
391.15(c) – Disqualification for criminal and other offenses
A driver can be disqualified from driving CMVs in interstate commerce if they are convicted of a disqualifying offense outlined in FMCSR §391.15. A driver may also be disqualified if they forfeit bond or collateral upon a charge of a disqualifying offense.
Disqualifying offenses include:
- Driving a CMV under the influence of alcohol (with a BAC of 0.04 or higher, or as prescribed by state law)
- Refusal to undergo alcohol testing as required at a traffic stop
- Driving a CMV under the influence of a Schedule I controlled substance (including amphetamines, narcotics, and their derivatives)
- Transportation, possession, or unlawful use of a Schedule I controlled substance while the driver is on duty
- Leaving the scene of an accident while operating a CMV
- A felony involving the use of a CMV
391.15(d) – Disqualification for violation of out of-service orders
A driver is disqualified from operating a CMV in interstate commerce if they are convicted of violating an out-of-service order. Special rules apply to drivers transporting hazardous materials that require placards and drivers operating CMVs designed to transport more than 15 people, including the driver.
391.15(e) – Disqualification for violation of prohibition of texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle
FMCS regulations state that no driver shall text while driving a CMV on a highway, and no motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to text while driving a CMV. A driver is disqualified from operating a CMV if they are convicted of a second or subsequent offense of texting while operating a CMV.
391.15(f) – Disqualification for violation of a restriction on using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle
FMCS regulations state that no driver shall use hand-held devices while driving a CMV on a highway and no motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use hand-held mobile devices while driving a CMV. Drivers are disqualified if they are convicted of a second or subsequent offense of illegally using a hand-held mobile telephone.
Both 391.15(e) and 391.15(f) apply any time the CMV is operating on a highway, including while the vehicle is temporarily stopped in traffic, at a traffic control device, and during other momentary delays. The restrictions do not include operating the CMV when the vehicle is stopped and is not in a lane of traffic.
How long is a driver disqualified under 391.15?
If a driver loses their driving privileges or is convicted of a violation, they may face disqualification under FMCSR §391.15.
Disqualification lasts until the authority that denied, revoked, suspended, or withdrew the driver’s license restores it.
Disqualification ranges from 6 months to 3 years, depending on the driver’s history and the type of offense.
Disqualification ranges from 90 days to 5 years, depending on the driver’s history of convictions.
391.15(e) and 391.15(f)
The driver is not disqualified on the first violation. After the first violation, disqualification ranges from 60 days to 120 days.
How to stay in compliance and avoid driver disqualification
If one of your drivers is disqualified, it’s important to know what to expect and what needs to be done. Our enhanced consultative services program identifies compliance risks and help you mitigate them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Avoiding driver disqualification in the first place starts with a robust hiring and training process. Taking the time to hire and train qualified drivers that understand and adhere to regulations reduces the risk of driver disqualification later on.
On-site DOT safety training from NTC takes the hassle out of developing a training program for your drivers. Our consultants work to understand your organization, your drivers, and your needs and create a training program that has exactly what you need to start strong.
Once you hire and train drivers, maintaining driver qualification files ensures you stay in compliance. Our fleet safety program is a customizable solution that makes managing documentation, driver records, and qualifications simpler. We maintain and manage files, so you can be confident that your drivers stay qualified and your business stays efficient.
Schedule time to talk with our consultants and see how we can help.