Fingerprints of school bus drivers are now being scanned and sent electronically, eliminating the need to ink and roll fingers on cards, said Commissioner David J. Swarts of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Fingerprints of school bus drivers are now being scanned and sent electronically, eliminating the need to ink and roll fingers on cards, said Commissioner David J. Swarts of the Department of Motor Vehicles. This improves the safety of children by speeding up the background check process.

Electronic fingerprinting compliments DMV’s online reporting system for school bus carriers, which replaced an entirely paper-based process that generated boxes of paperwork each year.  The new system reduces the cost and improves the efficiency of DMV’s oversight of the school bus industry, as well as making the submission of regulatory filings to DMV less expensive, easier and more accurate for school bus companies.

Upon being scanned, fingerprints are electronically transmitted directly to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and then forwarded by the DCJS to the FBI and both agencies conduct background checks.

Now that the prints are taken and sent electronically, the background-check results are able to be returned electronically to DMV within, on average, two business days. Under the ink-and-roll method, DMV mailed fingerprint cards to DCJS, which did a state background check and also mailed the cards to the FBI. DCJS then sent the state results back to DMV electronically, but the FBI had to mail its results; the entire process could take several weeks. Since the electronic scanning of fingerprints is more accurate than the ink and roll method, there are fewer instances where prints have to be retaken. The change also reduces mailing costs.

Under state law, new school bus drivers can be on the job conditionally for up to 90 days while the background checks are completed. The quicker turn-around time means that individuals who should not be behind the wheel of a school bus will be identified and removed more quickly.

The online reporting system for school bus carriers was launched as a pilot program in the fall of 2008 with 50 carriers. Previously, all carriers had to mail fingerprint cards and applications for new drivers to DMV and Department staff would manually add them to the carriers’ rosters. Carriers that use the online system can add new drivers as soon as their fingerprints are entered in the system.

The new reporting system has been well-received by the industry. Currently, more than 1,200 carriers use the online system, and more than 75 percent of all school bus drivers are tracked electronically.

Driver safety tips and information are available by visiting www.dmv.ny.gov.