The rule requiring fingerprint-based background checks for drivers seeking hazardous materials endorsements on their commercial driver licenses (CDLs) has been delayed until Jan 31, 2005. In addition, while the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is conducting the driver's security threat assessments, the state that issued the endorsement may extend the CDL expiration date to June 28, 2005, according to the April 6 in the Federal Register.
TSA originally set the deadline for the states to begin the program as Dec 31, 2003, but it was delayed until April 1, 2004. It was further delayed because at least 35 states asked for more time to change their existing CDL programs to meet the new requirements. Another concern was establishing fees to cover the expenses of the new procedures.
The rule (49 CFR Part 1572) forbids a state from issuing the hazmat endorsement unless TSA has first determined that the individual does not pose a security risk warranting denial of the license. In addition, the attorney general is required to carry out a background records check of the individual applying for the endorsement, and upon completing the check, to notify TSA of the results. TSA then determines whether the individual poses a security risk warranting denial of the endorsement, and subsequently notifies the state.
The background records check must consist of: (1) a check of the relevant criminal history databases; (2) in the case of an alien, a check of the relevant databases to determine the status of the alien under US immigration laws; and (3) as appropriate, a check of the relevant international databases through Interpol-US National Central Bureau or other appropriate means.
This latest rule stems from a May 5, 2003, interim final rule that required the security threat assessment. At that time, TSA also said it would provide guidance on how fingerprints would be collected and adjudicated.
TSA is preparing rulemaking documents to establish what it says are reasonable fees for this and other similar credentialing programs, according to the information.
If TSA determines that an individual does not meet the security threat assessment standards before completing the fingerprint-based criminal history records check, and directs the state to revoke the individual's hazmat endorsement, the individual may submit fingerprints in a form and manner specified by TSA if he or she believes that the determination is based on mistaken identity.
Beginning Jan 31, 2005, states must notify drivers holding a hazmat endorsement that they will be subject to the assessment.