OOIDA supports proposal to streamline CDL issuance regarding drug testing

June 30, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports a notice of proposed rulemaking that would prohibit state drivers licensing agencies from issuing a CDL to anyone who is currently prohibited from driving a commercial motor vehicle because of a drug or alcohol violation.

In formal comments submitted to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on June 29, OOIDA said it believes Congress intended that state drivers licensing agencies be able to exercise their authority to keep drug and alcohol violators off the road until they are legally permitted to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

“OOIDA supports FMCSA’s ‘Non-Issuance’ and ‘Preferred Alternative-Mandatory Downgrade’ provisions recommended in the notice of proposed rulemaking,” OOIDA said. “(State drivers licensing agencies), rather than employers or owner-operators, are best equipped to deny or downgrade CDLs or commercial learner’s permits based on Clearinghouse information.

“The options presented in the notice of proposed rulemaking would help streamline the intent of the MAP-21 requirements and ensure that drivers with legitimate drug and alcohol violations are not able to operate commercial motor vehicles until they have satisfied return-to-duty protocols. We believe that this process will improve highway safety and encourage FMCSA to continue working with industry stakeholders throughout the implementation period.”

FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register in April.

The proposal aims to prevent state drivers licensing agencies from issuing, renewing, upgrading or transferring a commercial driver’s license for anyone prohibited from driving a commercial motor vehicle because of drug or alcohol violations.

As part of the proposal, drivers wouldn’t be allowed to get their CDL or commercial learner’s permit without completing the return-to-duty requirements.

“FMCSA also seeks comment on alternate proposals establishing additional ways state drivers licensing agencies would use information obtained through the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to increase compliance with the commercial motor vehicle driving prohibition,” the agency wrote. “Further, the agency proposes to revise how reports of actual knowledge violations, based on a citation for driving under the influence in a commercial motor vehicle, would be maintained in the Clearinghouse.”

According to FMCSA, the proposal would improve highway safety by increasing compliance with existing drug and alcohol program requirements.

The agency said the proposal would assist enforcement and improve compliance with existing regulations regarding failed tests.

“FMCSA relies primarily on drivers themselves and their employers, to comply,” the agency wrote. “The reason is that, before the Clearinghouse was established, the agency did not have real-time access to drug and alcohol program violations of CDL holders. The Clearinghouse final rule addressed that information gap so that, based on violations reported to the Clearinghouse, FMCSA can now provide certain state enforcement personnel real-time notice of the driver’s prohibited driving status.”

The agency said that the “information gap” still exists for the state drivers licensing agencies and that this proposal would establish how and when the agencies would access and use driver-specific information from the Clearinghouse to keep prohibited drivers off the road.

June 29 was the final day to submit comments on the rulemaking.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.