A new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule will task State Driver’s Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) with beefing up compliance among CDL holders with drug and alcohol violations.

In a Final Rule to be published in the Federal Register on October 7, the FMCSA will issue new requirements for SDLAs intended to “help keep unsafe drivers off the road by increasing compliance with the CMV driving prohibition.”

Under the new rule, SDLAs are not allowed to issue, renew, upgrade, or transfer a CDL or commercial learner’s permit (CLP), without first accessing the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database that contains driver-specific drug and alcohol records.

The FMCSA says that most SDLAs do not receive information about drug or alcohol program violations for drivers licensed in their state, so they are often unaware that a CDL or CLP holder has a substance use violation.

“The rule closes that knowledge gap by ensuring that all SDLAs are able to determine whether CMV drivers licensed in their State are subject to FMCSA’s CMV driving prohibition,” the agency said.

The new rule would also require SDLAs to downgrade a driver’s CLP or CDL privilege for individuals who are prohibited from operating a CMV and performing other safety-sensitive functions, due to drug and alcohol program violations. The SDLA will either learn of a driver’s prohibited status when “pulling” driver records from the Clearinghouse during a licensing transaction or when the FMCSA “pushes” a notification to SDLAs when a drug or alcohol violation is entered in the Clearinghouse.

The FMCSA says that they’ll also push notifications to SDLAs to let them know that a driver has completed the required return to duty requirements and is no longer prohibited from operating a CMV.

The FMCSA says that the license downgrade requirement will help law enforcement to more quickly determine if a driver is prohibited from operating a CMV during traffic stops.

The Final Rule also requires states receiving Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) grant funds to adopt a compatible CMV driving prohibition applicable to CLP and CDL holders who violate FMCSA’s drug and alcohol program requirements.

The compliance date for the Final Rule is “as soon as practicable, but not later than November 18, 2024.”

To view the Final Rule in the Federal Register, please click here.

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