The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a clarification notice late last year saying provisions in the USA Patriot Act of 2001 that deal with the licensing of hazardous materials drivers could not be implemented until the Department of Transportation conducts a formal rulemaking.
The anti-terrorism bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was drafted within a matter of days. Section 1012 of the act prohibits states from issuing or renewing hazmat endorsements until DOT and the Department of Justice screen the applicants.
Following passage of the law, some states reportedly stopped issuing hazmat licenses because of confusion over how the act should be implemented.
A statement on the FMCSA website says, “Until regulations to implement Section 1012 are in place, states should continue to renew old and issue new commercial driver’s licenses under their usual procedures.”
As this issue went to press, a bill was introduced in the Senate to address the problem. Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., said his bill would outline the method and procedures for conducting the reviews. It also specifies who is and is not eligible to receive a hazmat endorsement. The bill would require a background check for anyone applying for or renewing a hazmat endorsement. It also calls for periodic checks of CDL holders with hazmat endorsements.