The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today issued afinal rule that it says significantly strengthens the licensing and sanctioning requirements of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) program for truck and bus drivers required to hold a CDL. The rule indicates a provision linking passenger car violations to commercial licenses.
The final rule, which will go into effect September 30, allows FMCSA to disqualify commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who have been convicted of traffic violations while operating a passenger vehicle that result in their license being canceled, revoked or suspended, or of committing drug and alcohol-related offenses while driving a passenger vehicle.
It also adds the following two new disqualifying offenses: driving a CMV after a CDL was revoked, suspended or canceled for operating a CMV; and causing a fatality through the negligent or criminal operation of a CMV.
“These comprehensive requirements for those who want to drive trucks and buses will help ensure that our highways are safer,” Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. “Only safe drivers should operate trucks and buses, and this rule will help make that happen.”
Also, the regulation expands the list of serious traffic violations to include drivers who fail to obtain a CDL, driving a CMV without a CDL in the driver’s possession, and operating a CMV without proper class of CMV being driven or type of cargo being transported. The regulation authorizes FMCSA’s Chief Safety Officer to disqualify, on an emergency basis, CDL drivers who pose an imminent hazard, a condition that presents a likelihood of death, serious personal injury or substantial danger to the public.
The final rule also requires that applicants obtaining, transferring, or renewing a CDL tell their state driver-licensing agency where they previously held motor vehicle licenses. This enables the issuing agency to obtain a candidate’s complete driving record.
Within three years after the rule’s effective date, FMCSA will penalize states not in substantial compliance with licensing and sanctioning requirements of the CDL program by withholding federal grants through its Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.
The new rule allows FMCSA to prohibit states that do not comply with this rule from issuing, renewing, transferring or upgrading CDLs and from issuing hardship licenses to truck and bus drivers who lose their driving privileges. States that comply with FMCSA CDL requirements will be permitted to issue non-resident CDLs to drivers living in states that have lost that privilege.