FMCSA Says States Must Revoke CDLs for Drug and Alcohol Violations
This effort will officially close a “knowledge gap” in federal drug and alcohol program requirements.
The new rule goes into effect on November 8, 2021.
What Will States Now Require of Semi Drivers?
The new rule entitled, “Controlled Substances and Alcohol Testing: State Driver’s Licensing Agency Non-Issuance/Downgrade of Commercial Driver’s License,” mandates that states must not issue, renew, upgrade, or transfer a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) after one or more drug and alcohol violations recorded in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
The Clearinghouse is an FMCSA-administered database that contains driver-specific controlled substance (drug) and alcohol records.
Now the Georgia Department of Driver Services and other state driver’s licensing agencies can access and use the information in the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
In addition, state licensing agencies are required to remove the CLP or CDL privilege from the license of a semi driver who’s subject to the commercial motor vehicle driving prohibition— which would result in a downgrade of the license until the driver complies with return-to-duty (RTD) requirements.
Right Now States Don’t Have Info on Semi Driver Violations, Putting Motorists at Risk of Accidents
The FMCSA explains that most states currently don’t get drug and alcohol program violation information about CDL or CLP holders. As a result, these licensing agencies are unaware when a semi operator is subject to the driving prohibition. Because of this knowledge gap, many of those big rig drivers continue to hold valid CDLs or CLPs despite these driving prohibitions.
“The rule closes that knowledge gap by ensuring that all SDLAs [State Driver’s Licensing Agencies] are able to determine whether CMV drivers licensed in their state are subject to FMCSA’s CMV driving prohibition,” FMCSA stated in the Federal Register notice.
The New Rule Helps Ensure Safe Truck Driving and Improve Highway Safety
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that the new requirements will help make certain that CMVs are operated safely and that the physical condition of CMV operators is “adequate to enable their safe operation.”
The agency also said that the requirement that states enforce the CMV driving prohibition on individuals who engage in prohibited use of drugs or alcohol will promote the safe operation of CMVs.
What Must Georgia Do?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that Georgia and all other states must change its statutes and regulations to ensure compatibility with any new addition or amendment to the rule “as soon as practicable, but not later than three years after the effective date” of the new rule.
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