The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's pre-employment screening program violates drivers' rights, claims the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in a lawsuit. OOIDA told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that under the program, drivers can be in effect found guilty of safety violations before they get due process in court.

The program gives employers access to the records of drivers who are applying for work, but OOIDA claims that the data in the system is not always accurate and is difficult to correct.

OOIDA cites the experience of three drivers who were cited for alleged violations. The drivers challenged their citations in court and were either acquitted or had their cases dismissed, the association said.

But when they tried to use the agency's DataQ system to get their records corrected, the agency refused to make the changes, OOIDA claimed in its suit.

"By refusing to accept the determination by a court, the FMCSA has in essence made state law enforcement agencies the final judge and jury on all citations," said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president, in a statement. "This can ultimately threaten business opportunities and income."

OOIDA wants the court to tell the agency to purge from the database any inspection reports that allege violations, if a court has not ruled on the driver's guilt. It also wants purged any reports concerning violations that the agency has not found to be "serious driver-related violation(s)."

In addition, the association wants the pre-employment screening program to tell employers if a violation that shows up in the database is being disputed by the driver, and why the driver is challenging the information.

The brief was filed last Friday.

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