Harvison: New CDL rule penalizes hazmat drivers

Aug. 1, 2002
A 1999 move by Congress to tighten the screws regarding truck driver licensing and qualifications has been accomplished in a Federal Motor Carrier Safety

A 1999 move by Congress to “tighten the screws” regarding truck driver licensing and qualifications has been accomplished in a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule scheduled to go into effect September 30, according to Cliff Harvison, National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) president.

“Of course, a quick review of the tables will affirm that the disqualification penalties for drivers with hazardous materials endorsements are substantially more severe than for those without the endorsement,” Harvison says.

Congress mandated an elimination of multi-state licensing of the same individual, and penalties for truck drivers with serious traffic violations, even if those violations were committed while driving a passenger car, says Harvison.

He points out that some of the wording used in a section on alcohol-use convictions may be confusing. “There appears to be some conflict with regard to suspending the commercial driver license (CDL), if a particular alcohol violation was in a passenger car or other non- commercial vehicle,” he says. “According to the Department of Transportation the federal threshold for disqualification is 0.04 (or greater) alcohol concentration. Most states have adopted this rule, administratively.

“For example, when a state adopts the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, they automatically pick up the 0.04 threshold. Thus, if a CDL holder driving a passenger car gets a driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction with an alcohol concentration at or greater than 0.04, that driver can't operate commercial motor vehicles for a specified period.

“In some cases, however, a jurisdiction (perhaps operating under home rule) may have a more strict threshold for an alcohol related conviction. In that case, a passenger car conviction of a CDL holder would not result in disqualification because the federal minimum had not been met.

“As usual, the regulatory devil is in the details; and, in this case, the details are in three charts which list the various violations and the mandated periods of CDL ‘disqualification’ for first and subsequent offences.”