Background Checks

Motor vehicle checks are another tool employers may find useful in screening applicants for employment. Actually, the term motor vehicle check is a little misleading. What we’re really talking about is the status of somebody’s driver’s license, which can be determined through each state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Drivers’ license checks are particularly important to do if you’re planning to hire people for jobs that require the use of a car as part of the job or if new employees are going to be driving a company-owned vehicle. It’s an inexpensive exercise; and, when used in conjunction with careful reference checking, it can further reduce the specter of negligent hiring litigation for failing to check something so easy to verify.

To carry out a check, you’ll need each candidate’s full name (as it appears on his/her driver’s license), date of birth, Social Security number, address, driver’s license number, state of issue, and, of course, each candidate’s express permission to carry out the check in the form of a signed release that complies with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In some states, the individual holding the license must complete a special form to obtain the record. (The easiest and least expensive way to do it is to require prospective employees to get a certified copy of their own driving records.)

A motor vehicle check will tell you the status of each candidate’s license, if it’s valid or not, if it’s restricted for any reason (like poor eyesight), and if it’s suspended for any reason. It will also show any traffic offenses the driver has committed, such as speeding, reckless driving, or driving while intoxicated. It will show any past suspensions or restrictions, as well as the type of license, such as an ordinary driver’s license, a commercial license, or a chauffeur’s license. (If you’re planning to hire a chauffeur for your wealthy Great Aunt Harriet, it might be nice to know if the top candidate has a valid chauffeur’s license and doesn’t have a list of previous convictions for speeding or driving while intoxicated!)

A motor vehicle check will ordinarily take two or three days to complete, depending on the state of issue.