FMCSA proposes rule to close loopholes in permit process

| 4/11/2008

Illegal immigrants, drivers with bad records, and others who may look to capitalize on loopholes in the commercial driver’s license permit regulations won’t be getting away with it much longer if a proposed reg is adopted.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a “notice of proposed rulemaking” in the Federal Register on Wednesday, April 9, that seeks to close up loopholes and address shortcomings in the current process.

In addition to setting new minimum standards in the permit process, the proposed rulemaking seeks to revise the CDL knowledge and skills testing.

The proposed rulemaking is in response to provisions in the current highway funding legislation – commonly called SAFETEA-LU and the SAFE Port Act of 2006.

The proposed rulemaking includes a comprehensive updating of the permitting and testing process. Some housekeeping type provisions include things such as mandating the minimum age for applying for the permit at 21 years old and making the permits tamperproof.

One big change FMCSA officials propose is that permit holders would have to meet virtually every requirement actual CDL holders have to meet. For example, that would mean that the serious and critical violations that CDL holders face being either sidelined or having their licenses suspended for life would also apply to permit holders.

Right now, inconsistency from state to state in verifying citizenship or legal residency leave the permitting process open to fraud. The proposal sets a list of the accepted documents applicants would have to present to apply for the permit.

The proposal acknowledges that the current use of interpreters sets the testing system up for fraud and poses safety risks. The proposed reg seeks to prohibit the use of interpreters in the skills portion of the testing.

The public has until June 9 to file comments on the proposed regulation. The Docket number for the proposed rule is FMCSA-2007-27659. Click here to comment online.

Of course, submitting comments electronically via the Internet isn’t your only option. You can still:

  • Fax comments with the Docket ID number to (202) 493-2251;
  • Mail comments with the Docket ID number to:
  • Docket Management Facility

      U.S. Department of Transportation
      Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
      Washington, DC 20590-0001

  • Or hand deliver comments between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays, to the ground floor of the U.S. Department of Transportation building, Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE , Washington, DC.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor