FMCSA proposes to remove CDL privileges for unresolved testing violations

The proposal requires states to monitor Clearinghouse data and disqualify drivers subject to return-to-duty requirements.

Posted April 29, 2020

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants to use its Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse as a means of removing driving privileges from commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who have unresolved drug or alcohol testing violations.

Under a newly proposed rule, state driver’s licensing agencies (SDLAs) would be prohibited from issuing, renewing, upgrading, or transferring a CDL or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) for individuals subject to return-to-duty (RTD) requirements after a testing violation.

Testing rules prohibit CDL drivers with violations under Part 382 from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) until specific steps in the RTD process are completed. The proposed rule ties the RTD status appearing in the Clearinghouse with CDL privileges.

Checking for and acting on violations

All states would be required to check the Clearinghouse for restrictions when a driver applies for, transfers, upgrades, or renews a CDL or CLP.

The FMCSA also wants states to take action against drivers who are not due to have any contact with the SDLA. The proposal suggests two models SDLAs can use to obtain information from the Clearinghouse:

  • Data pull. An SDLA could choose a schedule of its own making to check Clearinghouse data on its current CDL and CLP holders. The state could grab the data on an annual basis, for instance.
  • Data push. This model “pushes” new data to the SDLA whenever information is added to the Clearinghouse about one of its CDL drivers who has committed a testing violation. This is the FMCSA’s preferred option.

Whether using a push or pull model, the proposed rule requires that the state agency disqualify the driver until he or she provides proof of a completed RTD process.

DUIs in CMVs

The proposed rule would also revise how reports of “actual knowledge” violations, based on a citation for driving under the influence (DUI) in a CDL-required CMV, would be maintained in the Clearinghouse. Employers currently report these traffic citations to the Clearinghouse. Drivers who are ultimately cleared of the DUI, however, can get the report removed from the database.

The proposal would keep the employer’s report in the database, regardless of whether the driver is ultimately convicted of the offense. The definition of “actual knowledge” in §382.107 is not contingent upon a conviction. All violations identified in Part 382, Subpart B, must be reported and retained in the Clearinghouse and would provide fairness to drivers and full disclosure to employers.

Drivers who are not convicted of the offense of DUI in a CMV could petition FMCSA to add documentary evidence of that fact to their Clearinghouse record.

How to submit comments

Interested parties may submit comments on the proposed rule using of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: regulations.gov.
  • Mail: Docket Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand delivery or courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.
  • Fax: (202) 493-2251.

When submitting comments, please identify them by Docket Number FMCSA-2017-0330. Comments must be received on or before June 29, 2020.

This article was written by Kathy Close of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

 

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