Federal trucking regulators are cracking down on state driver licensing agencies, requiring that they keep a closer watch for commercial motor vehicle drivers with drug or alcohol violations, and removing their driving privileges within 60 days after being notified of a test failure.
“Currently, most state driver licensing agencies do not receive drug and alcohol program violation information about commercial driver license or commercial learner permit holders licensed in their state,” said a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announcement Oct. 6. “Therefore, these SDLAs are unaware when a commercial motor vehicle operator is subject to the driving prohibition, and the CMV operator continues to hold a valid CDL or CLP, despite the driving prohibition.”
The new final rule closes the “knowledge gap” by ensuring that all state licensing agencies are able to determine whether drivers licensed in their state are subject to the agency’s driving prohibition, FMCSA said.
The rule reinforces prior requirements that the licensing agency must not “issue, renew, upgrade or transfer a commercial driver’s license, or commercial learner’s permit when a driver has tested positive for drugs or alcohol.”
The states already are required to check FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse database for violations before issuing new licenses or renewing the licenses.
In addition to the nonissuance requirement, the rule requires that state agencies initiate the process to remove the CLP or CDL privilege from the driver’s license within 60 days after receiving notification from FMCSA that an individual is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle because they engaged in prohibited use of drugs or alcohol or have refused a test.
In comments, there was some debate about whether the states should be required to “downgrade” a driver’s CDL — that is not allow the driver to get behind the wheel — within 30 days. The comments caused the agency to extend the time period to 60 days.