Tougher CDL Rules Proposed

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a notice of proposed rulemaking July 31 designed to further strengthen commercial driver’s license requirements.

“This comprehensive rulemaking will strengthen commercial motor vehicle driver licensing requirements and enhance highway safety by ensuring that only safe drivers operate large trucks and buses,” Department of Transportation secretary Norman Y. Mineta said in a DOT press release.

The proposed rule establishes a new school bus endorsement, expands CDL driver records checks to include all states where applicants were previously licensed to drive any vehicle, and prohibits hardship licenses for CDL holders who lose their driving privileges.

The rule would add three new serious violations for which a driver may be disqualified after two or more convictions: driving a commercial vehicle without having obtained a CDL, driving without a CDL in possession and driving without proper endorsements for vehicle type or cargo. The new rule also disqualifies a driver after the first conviction of driving while suspended, driving while disqualified or causing a fatality.

The proposal also imposes certain record-keeping requirements on state agencies to report serious violations to the driver’s home state and for states to maintain a list of all violations committed by a CDL holder or a driver driving a commercial vehicle illegally. It would also prohibit states from masking driving convictions from a driver’s record.

Under the proposed rule, states that do not comply with federal CDL requirements could lose federal safety funding or in extreme cases lose the authorization to issue, transfer or renew CDLs. FMCSA is accepting comments on the proposed rule until Oct. 25.

The new rulemaking follows a notice of proposed rulemaking in May that would require states to disqualify CDL holders if convicted of certain offenses while driving any other vehicle, including the family sedan. These offenses include drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident, committing a general or substance-related felony, violating railroad-highway grade crossing signs, excessive speeding and reckless driving. Disqualification for these offenses could mean suspension, revocation or cancellation of a CDL by the issuing state, depending on the severity of the offense. The comment period on that NPRM ended last month.

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The new rulemakings are in response to requirements set down by Congress when it created the FMCSA with the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.

The proposed CDL rules adds three new violations for which a driver may be disqualified.