Bottom Line
Ghosts of convictions past
Are there sanctions lurking in your NDR file?

By Donna Ryun
OOIDA communications director


If your application for a driver’s license, renewal, duplicate license, or learner’s permit – whether commercial or otherwise – has been denied recently, you’d better check the “problem driver” list because your name could be on it.

I’m talking about the Problem Driver Pointer System – referred to as PDPS. As a part of the National Driver Register, the PDPS maintains records of anyone whose driving privileges have been suspended, revoked, canceled or withdrawn in any state.

The database also contains records of convictions for “serious” offenses such as DUI, reckless driving, and vehicular negligent/homicide that would normally lead to the withdrawal of driving privileges.

All states are required by federal mandate in the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, or MCSIA, to check the national register before issuing, renewing or replacing any driver’s license product. If you’re on the list, you won’t be getting a license until you’ve resolved any outstanding driver sanctions.

This federal mandate was initiated to keep problem drivers off the road and to prevent them from shopping for a license in another state after they’ve been revoked or suspended in their own state.

According to the National Driver Register Web site – – states check the database six months prior to the expiration of licenses. If a sanction is discovered, drivers are notified and provided with the name of the state(s) in which the sanction was imposed, the relevant license number, and contact information so they can try to resolve the sanction in advance of their renewal dates.

States will check the database again three months prior to the expiration of a license and, if necessary, will provide another notification of any unresolved sanctions.

If you’ve been sanctioned in any state, you won’t get a license until you resolve the sanction.

Keep in mind that even if your sanction is from many years ago, there’s no time limit, so it will need to be reconciled before any state will issue you a license.

You can request a check of the NDR records to determine whether you are on the problem driver list and what sanctions have been imposed in which state(s). The results will contain all information, including older records. You can also determine who has previously been given the information in your file. For information on how to obtain an individual request form, visit, go to “Get Started” in the upper right corner, and click on “NDR Individual File Check Request Form.”

Employers or prospective employers can request a file check with a driver’s authorized signature. However, the NDR results for employers will contain only the identification of the state or states that have reported driver information, and only information reported within the past three years from the date of the inquiry.

If you suspect there may be a sanction(s) on your license in another state, don’t waste any time; get it resolved as quickly as possible. Contact the state in which the sanction was imposed and find out what it will take to clear your driving record.

Once the sanction is resolved, the state will notify the NDR so that you can get your license. The amount of time it could take to clear your name in the NDR will vary, so it’s best to act immediately because no extensions are available for licenses.

As with nearly every large database, the NDR has its flaws. An October 2007 audit revealed several issues that were cause for concern. Many of these issues have been resolved, but some are still being corrected.

In a report by the Transportation Department Inspector General issued to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, various security weaknesses in network transmissions of sensitive information were noted and are now either resolved or are in the process of being corrected.

In addition, the audit report showed that problem driver records were not recorded in a timely manner and recommended that state DMVs’ 31-day reporting requirement be regularly enforced. The report also indicated numerous records containing incomplete and/or inaccurate information in the area of personally identifiable information, such as height, weight and eye color.

The Inspector General’s report further revealed hundreds of thousands of duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers in the NDR, which, until corrected, could cause problems and delays in the states’ ability to identify problem drivers.

According to the report, more than half the records in the NDR contain Social Security numbers, but current federal law has not required states to verify those numbers before issuing a driver’s license.

The Real ID Act of 2005 requires verification of all Social Security numbers used to obtain driver’s licenses, however, no state has yet adopted the Real ID.

As of press time, all 50 states had either applied for extensions of the original May 11, 2008, compliance deadline or received unsolicited extensions. It now appears that the Real ID Act will not become an issue until end of 2009.

However, it would be wise to request a copy of your NDR report, particularly if you suspect there are any states that have sanctions on your driving record. The quicker you obtain the information, the more time you will have to resolve any issues that could affect your driving privileges. LL

If you have questions about doing business as an owner-operator and/or an independent trucker, please e-mail them to or send them to PO Box 1000, Grain Valley, MO 64029. We can’t publish all of your questions in Land Line, but you will receive a response, even if your letter is not published.