FMCSA issues CDL amendments

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on May 5 issued its final rule amending the commercial driver’s license knowledge and skills testing standards and establishing new minimum federal standards for states to issue a commercial learner’s permit. The final rule requires a permit holder meet virtually the same requirements as those for a license holder, including driver disqualification penalties. The rule also specifically prohibits a motor carrier from using a driver who does not hold a current and appropriate permit or CDL to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The final rule implements relevant sections of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006. Many of the program areas and issues dealt with in this rule are also addressed in the Department of Homeland Security’s final rule implementing the REAL ID Act. FMCSA says it has coordinated efforts with DHS to write regulations that neither overlap nor conflict.

Successful completion of a knowledge test, currently a prerequisite for the CDL, now will be required for a permit. The rule requires states to use driver and examiner reference materials, state testing questions and exercises, and state testing methodologies that FMCSA has preapproved. It includes prohibiting use of foreign language interpreters in the administration of the knowledge and skills tests to reduce the potential for fraud. The final rule also strengthens the legal presence requirements and increases the documentation required for permit and CDL applicants to demonstrate their legal presence in the United States. The rule also addresses applicants who wish to attend a driver training school in a state other than the applicant’s state of domicile; states are required to recognize permits issued by other states for training purposes.