States will need to take away license privileges from any professional driver who tests positive for drugs and alcohol sooner under a new rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
FMCSA says the rule is needed because too many commercial drivers are continuing to drive because states have not taken steps to remove their license privileges after they have received citations.
This rule requires state licensing agencies to access and use information from FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse indicating that driver or applicant may not lawfully operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) The state agencies are expected to be in “substantial compliance” with the new rule no later than Nov. 18.
Under the rule, states must not issue, renew, upgrade or transfer a commercial driver’s license (CDL), or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) for anyone prohibited under FMCSA’s regulations from driving a CMV due to one or more drug and alcohol violations.
The state agencies also must remove the CLP or CDL privilege from the license of someone subject to the driving prohibition, resulting in a downgrade of the license until the driver complies with return-to-duty (RTD) requirements.
Currently, most state licensing agencies don’t receive drug and alcohol violation information about CDL or CLP holders who are licensed in their states, FMCSA pointed out.
As a result, they are unaware when a CMV operator is subject to the driving prohibition. As a result, the driver continues to hold a valid CDL or CLP in spite of the driving prohibition.
By ordering state licensing agencies to downgrade the driver’s licensing status by removing the commercial driving privilege, FMCSA also said the final rule also will permit all traffic safety enforcement officers to readily identify prohibited drivers by conducting a license check during a traffic stop or other roadside intervention.