Who Keeps Owner-Operators' Records?

Daren Hansen, Sr. Editor - Transportation Safety

August 17, 2021

 Woman driving truck

Independent owner-operators who operate under their own authority are required to keep a variety of records for DOT compliance. But when those same owner-operators sign on to work for another motor carrier — even temporarily — the picture changes.

As an owner-operator, if you lease on to another motor carrier and drive under their direction and authority, that motor carrier is responsible for your DOT compliance, the same as if you were one of their employees. The motor carrier cannot shift that responsibility back to you.


Your vehicle, their records

When it comes to DOT recordkeeping, this means the motor carrier must be able to produce your records during an audit, including:

  • Proof that you are fully qualified (via a driver qualification file) and enrolled in the carrier’s drug and alcohol testing program;
  • Evidence that your vehicle is systematically maintained and is current on its daily and annual inspections; and
  • Records showing you are complying with hours-of-service rules, including your logs and supporting documents (and electronic logging device (ELD) records when required).

In addition, the lease agreement may make the motor carrier responsible for other documentation requirements, like tracking fuel purchases and filing quarterly fuel-tax returns.


Simplify compliance

Managing all these documents and making sure the motor carrier has what they need can be a complicated task. The right recordkeeping system can simplify compliance, ensuring you get all required documents into the right hands at the right time.

If DOT compliance and recordkeeping is keeping you up at night, seek help so you can focus on what you do best: safe driving.


Let J. J. Keller assist in managing your driver or vehicle compliance or call 888.473.4638 for more information.