The Drivers Privacy and Protection Act

Background checks are more than just a good idea for employers in certain industries—they are the law, and your only protection against a negligent hiring lawsuit. But there is a flip side to background checking that requires employers to provide security measures for the subject being checked as well.

After a wake of crimes stemming from access to public driver’s records in the first half of the 1990’s, the Federal Driver’s Privacy and Protection Act, or DPPA, was enacted. The goal of the DPPA was to provide protections for people subject to driving background checks. The act had a significant impact on many businesses, as driving background checks are an integral part of safe and secure business practices.

Businesses most affected by the DPPA are those in the transportation industries, those who require employees to drive either personal or company vehicles as part of their job, or those who provide company vehicles for employee use either full or part time. For these businesses (as well as many others) a background check which includes a check into the employee’s driving record is an absolute must.

Whenever a company needs to check the driving record of a current or potential employee, they have a responsibility to the employee to do so legally and safely. In short, employers must follow the protocol of the DPPA. The first requirement of the protocol is necessity; a company must show that they have a legitimate business need for the information contained in the driver’s record. Alternatively, a company can hire a licensed firm to access the information on their behalf, as licensed investigators and security services are also allowed to access driver’s records.

Besides legitimacy of need, companies must

  • Obtain the consent of the individual (without consent, access is severely limited and will not include any identifying information)
  • Complete an application and provide the employee’s name, address, social security number or license number, and contact information
  • List the representing firm and/or business name
  • Sign and date the request
  • Send it into the appropriate DMV with the appropriate fee

Businesses can conduct a driver’s record check on their own, but many find it is in their best interests to hire a private company to handle all their background checking needs. A specialized company is well-versed in the legalities of driver’s record and background checking, and is current on changes and protocols of the Driver’s Privacy and Protection Act. In the eyes of many businesses, the safest and most efficient way for them to manage necessary driver’s record checks is to partner with a qualified professional.