Since the CDL Clearinghouse went live, the 900,000 registered users have logged over 17,000 drug and alcohol violations. In response, the FMCSA proposed a driving ban for violators. The proposed ban requires state agencies to stop issuing, renewing or upgrading commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and learning permits (CLP) for any driver with a drug or alcohol violation. Additionally, the ban could require all state agencies to downgrade CDL and CLP driving privileges until completion of all return-to-duty requirements.
Why the driving ban?
The CDL Clearinghouse is a game-changer for keeping our roadways safe. Driving a commercial vehicle before completing return-to-service requirements is illegal. However, until now, the DOT relied upon employers to enforce those regulations.
With real-time access to the nationwide CDL Clearinghouse, states and employers can now easily validate a driver’s CDL status. By closing the information gap, the FMCSA has provided state agencies the tools they need to instate and enforce a driving ban for any driver who has an active substance violation on record.
What does the driving ban mean for state agencies, drivers and carriers?
The FMCSA has proposed two solutions for changing how employers report knowledge of drug or alcohol violations:
- The preferred solution requires a mandatory downgrade of CDL and CLP driving privileges. The downgrade would remain in effect until the completes an RTD process and complies with all state procedures for license reinstatement.
- The alternative solution allows the state to decide how to use CDL Clearinghouse data. It lets each state determine the course of action, provided that drivers with active violations are prohibited from driving commercial vehicles.
DOT officials understand that this ban impacts state, carrier, and driver operations. These changes could increase carrier costs by delaying a driver’s return to service. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that 82% of drivers complete a 2-day RTD education program.
Employers are concerned that, with the ban in place, driver reinstatement could take longer, resulting in lost earning potential for the driver and revenue for the carrier. Due to the contentious nature of the proposal, carriers can express their concerns and offer suggestions during the 60-day comment period.
How can I weigh in on the driving ban?
The new regulation, 49 CFR Parts 382, 383, 384, 390 and 392, will open for public commentary on April 28th, 2020 before finalization. The published regulation includes the proposed ban, all legal background, and 13 questions open for public comment. The questions can be found starting on page 54 of the official document, and a guide for submitting your feedback starts on page four.
The FMCSA wants to hear from you, and your voice could sway the final rule, so make sure you get your comments in before the 60-day public comment window closes!
When will the final rule for the driving ban go into effect?
There is no set date for a final rule yet. The FMCSA will consider all comments provided throughout the public commentary window before settling on a course of action. They have stated that they “may issue a final rule at any time after the close of the comment period.”
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