Arkansas enacts new CDL standard

| 3/7/2005

With the threat of losing millions in federal highway money, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has signed a bill into law to bring the state into line with recently enacted federal standards for commercial driver’s licenses.

Federal law mandates a fingerprint-based background check on all truck drivers who haul hazardous materials. The cost of the check is estimated at about $100, depending on which state you are licensed in.

The fee is made up of three parts: a fee for the collection of fingerprints and applicant information; a fee for threat assessment, during which the Transportation Security Administration decides whether the person is a security threat; and a fee for the FBI to run the fingerprints through its system.

Under the new law, anyone seeking a CDL with an endorsement to haul hazardous materials for the first time needs such a background check. The requirement kicks in after May 31 for drivers renewing their endorsement or transferring a hazmat endorsement from one state to another.

A state’s first year of noncompliance would equate to a 5 percent cut, according to media reports. Subsequent penalties would be doubled.

Also, the federal government could take away the state’s authority to issue CDLs.

The new law, previously HB1205, makes the needed changes in Arkansas law.

In other action, House lawmakers on March 2 voted down another bill related to trucking.

Sponsored by Rep. Shirley Borhauer, R-Bella Vista, the bill would have required covers on loads of gravel or rock hauled by truck.

The “tarp bill” – HB1066 – was rejected by the full House on a 46-41 vote.

Similar legislation offered by Borhauer also failed passage in the 2001 and 2003 sessions.