Reminder: Hazmat background check process under way

| Wednesday, August 13, 2003

On May 5, the Transportation Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published rules state agencies must follow to permit drivers to retain a hazmat endorsement on a CDL.

Beginning Sept. 2, 2003, drivers qualified to hold hazmat-endorsed CDLs must meet the following standards: be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; have no disqualifying criminal offenses; not be mentally incompetent or committed to a mental institution; and not be assessed by TSA as posing a threat of terrorism, to national security or to transportation security.

Along those lines, TSA is currently performing name-based background checks on all hazmat-endorsed CDL holders. That means TSA is getting names of all drivers who hold hazmat-endorsed CDLs from state motor vehicle departments. Drivers don’t have to do anything in order for this to happen.

However, if TSA says a driver failed to meet the criteria for retention of the endorsement, the driver will have to appeal or ask for a waiver. TSA will tell drivers how to appeal or ask for a waiver as part of a mailed notice. If TSA doesn’t grant an appeal or waiver, the local motor vehicle department will be notified to withdraw the driver’s endorsement.

Beginning Nov. 3, 2003, TSA will require fingerprint-based background checks for drivers renewing CDLs with hazmat endorsements and for drivers seeking to get a hazmat endorsement.

However, TSA and FMCSA are currently considering extending the deadline. TSA is asking states to give drivers a 120-day notice before their current endorsement expires. Those whose endorsements expire soon after Nov. 3 should continue to check with local DMV or with Land Line’s Web site to see what “sunset” provisions apply.

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