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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Guidelines and Driver Qualifications for Motor Carriers of Passengers - Parts 390 & 391

PART 390 - General Applicability and Regulations

General Applicability

The rules in 49 CFR Parts 390 – 399 are applicable to all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) which transport passengers in interstate commerce.


Unless otherwise specifically provided, the operational safety regulations (physical qualification standards for drivers; driver’s hours-of-service; vehicle inspection; repair, and maintenance; etc.) do not apply to:

  1. All school bus operations as defined below
  2. The operation of CMVs designed or used to transport between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) not for compensation.

Refer to § 390.3(f) for a complete listing of motor carrier operations that are not subject to the operational safety regulations.

Definitions – § 390.5

Commercial motor vehicle means any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce
to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
  2. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
  3. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  4. Is used in transporting hazardous material and transported in a quantity requiring placarding.

Interstate commerce means trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States:

  1. Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State;
  2. Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or
  3. Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.

School bus operation means the use of a school bus to transport only school children and/or school personnel from home to school and from school to home.

Accident Register – § 390.15

Motor carriers of passengers must maintain, for three years after the date an accident occurs, an accident register containing information required in § 390.1

Marking of CMVs – § 390.21

Every CMV operated in interstate commerce is subject to the marking requirements as specified in § 390.21.

PART 391 – Qualifications of Drivers

Scope of the rules in this part – § 391.1

The rules in this part establish minimum qualifications for persons who drive CMVs.

General qualifications of drivers – § 391.11

A person must not drive a CMV unless he or she is qualified to drive a CMV. These qualifications are outlined in § 391.11

Disqualification of drivers – § 391.15

A driver who is disqualified shall not drive a CMV. The types of disqualifications are:

  • Disqualification for loss of driving privileges.
  • Disqualification for certain criminal and other offenses.
  • Disqualification for violation of out-of-service orders.

Driver Qualification Files

Every motor carrier must maintain a driver qualification file for each driver it employs.

The file must include:

  • Driver’s application for employment
  • Inquiry to previous employers — driving record for last 3 years;
  • Annual inquiry and review of driving record;
  • Annual driver’s certification of violations and annual review;
  • Driver’s road test and certificate, or the equivalent to the road test;
  • Medical examiner’s certificate; and
  • If granted, a waiver of physical disqualification for a person with a loss or impairment of limbs as specified in § 391.49.

Refer to § 391.51 for a complete list of required driver qualification file documents.

Multiple-Employer Drivers – § 391.63

If a motor carrier employs a driver, who in any period of 7 consecutive days, is employed or used as a driver by more than one motor carrier, the carrier need not:

  1. Require an application for employment:
  2. Make investigations and inquires;
  3. Perform the annual driving record inquiry;
  4. Perform the annual review of the person’s driving record; or
  5. Require the person to furnish a record of violations or certificate.

A part-time driver who does not work for another motor carrier is considered a single-employer driver and cannot use the limited exemption in § 391.63.

Last updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2014