The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has revised the DOT regulations to establish new minimum federal standards for States’ issuance of commercial learner’s permits (CLPs). At the same time, it modified some requirements relating to commercial drivers licenses (CDLs). Among the provisions:
• A CLP holder will have to meet virtually the same requirements as those for a CDL holder, and will be subject to the same driver disqualification penalties.
• States will be required to check FMCSA databases and verify driver social security numbers of CLP applicants (most already do the latter), to recognize each others’ CLPs, and to create a CDLIS (Commercial Driver’s License Information System) record for each CLP issued.
• The CLP is to be issued for 180 days after passage of the general and endorsement knowledge test, and may be renewed for another 180 days without retaking the test.
• A CPL holder must wait at least 14 days to take the CDL skills test.
• A CDL may not be issued for more than 8 years (states may lower that period).
• States will be required to use the FMCSA’s endorsement and restriction codes as licenses are next issued or renewed.
• Testing in languages other than English is prohibited.
Rejecting comments that larger carriers could be unfairly penalized on a proportional or violation-per-driver, the FMCSA added a new ‘‘acute violation’’ to the DOT Safety Ratings process-- knowingly allowing operation of a CMV [Commercial Motor Vehicle] by an employee who does not have a current CLP or CDL with the proper class or endorsements, or in violation of any restriction. To comments regarding availability of information about drivers, the agency replied, “Carriers are in the best position to determine that their own drivers are properly licensed. Implementation of a central database for monitoring and notifying carriers of status changes to CDL holders is beyond the scope of this rulemaking.”
The final rule is effective July 11, 2011, but some of the changes have different effective dates. The FMCSA's release is available at 76 Fed. Reg. 26854 (May 9, 2011).