U.S. DOT FMCSA Amends Regulations to Establish Requirements for State Driver’s License Agencies (SLDAs) to Access and Use Information Obtained through the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

October 13, 2021

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Drivers who have a positive drug or alcohol test and find themselves in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will begin having their licenses downgraded after a final rule from the agency takes effect.

Under the new rule, which will be effective as of November 8, 2021, with a state compliance date of November 18, 2024, states will be barred from issuing, renewing, upgrading or transferring a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) for any driver prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle due to one or more drug or alcohol violations.

Additionally, states will be required to remove the CDL or CLP privilege from the license of drivers subject to the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driving prohibition, resulting in a downgrade of the license until the driver completes return-to-duty (RTD) requirements.

In issuing the rule, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explained that because most SDLAs do not receive drug and alcohol violation information about drivers who are licensed in their state, some drivers who are not supposed to be on the road continue to operate trucks with valid licenses. “The rule closes that knowledge gap by ensuring that all SDLAs are able to determine whether CMV drivers licensed in their State are subject to FMCSA’s CMV driving prohibition,” FMCSA stated.

In pertinent part, the new rule reads:

SDLAs must not issue, renew, upgrade, or transfer a commercial driver’s license (CDL), or commercial learner’s permit (CLP), as applicable, for any individual prohibited under FMCSA’s regulations from performing safety-sensitive functions, including driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), due to one or more drug and alcohol program violations. Further, SDLAs must remove the CLP or CDL privilege from the driver’s license of an individual subject to the CMV driving prohibition, which would result in a downgrade of the license until the driver complies with return-to-duty (RTD) requirements.

This rule also requires States receiving Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) grant funds to adopt a compatible CMV driving prohibition applicable to CLP and CDL holders who violate FMCSA’s drug and alcohol program requirements and makes clarifying and conforming changes to current regulations. The final rule will help keep unsafe drivers off the road by increasing compliance with the CMV driving prohibition.

The new rule can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-10-07/pdf/2021-21928.pdf

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