Background check deadline delayed for hazmat-endorsed drivers

| 9/9/2003

According to press reports, the Transportation Security Administration has decided to delay the implementation of fingerprint-based background checks that eventually will be required of commercial drivers who haul hazardous materials.

TSA did not say how long the delay would be, but in July this year, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, which has worked closely with TSA on the issue, suggested the deadline be moved from Nov. 3, 2003, to Nov. 3, 2004.

TSA did not respond to several Land Line requests about information on the length of the delay.

AAMVA said in a July letter to TSA that while it supports the overall goal of TSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to improve CMV safety and security, "the ability of the states and federal government to implement the requirements in the time frame (is in question) given many unanswered questions about procedures and the huge unfounded mandates expressed or implied in the rules."

Among AAMVA's concerns:

TSA didn't provide technical specifications and standards for the credentialing and background check procedures. Also, no guidelines were provided regarding the fingerprint collection process and where and how to send the prints.

In addition, AAMVA said federal funding was not available to pay for the required upgrades for purchasing fingerprinting machines if motor vehicle agencies are expected to take the fingerprints. Manufacturers have told AAMVA they cannot produce the needed 3,000 to 4,000 live scan units to meet the implementation date if motor vehicle agencies must take the prints.

Meanwhile, it has not been determined whether the Department of Justice will accept a third-party provider of fingerprints or if clearinghouses will need to be used, AAMVA said.

And finally, FMCSA says states will not be required to comply with the requirements until Nov. 3, 2003, while TSA says as of 120 days following the rule's publication, any CDL holder who does not meet the security threat assessment standard is not authorized to hold or obtain a hazmat endorsement.

"Which date is correct?" AAMVA asked.