South Dakota OKs new CDL standards

| 3/14/2005

With the threat of losing millions in federal highway money, Gov. Mike Rounds has signed a bill into law to bring South Dakota into line with recently enacted federal standards for certain 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 requirements kick in after May 31 for drivers renewing their endorsement or transferring a hazmat endorsement from one state to another.

Had South Dakota failed to adopt the new standards, the state stood to lose $7 million the first year of noncompliance, the Argus Leader reported. Subsequent penalties would have been doubled.

The federal government could even have taken away South Dakota’s authority to issue CDLs.

The new law, previously HB1061, makes the needed changes in state law.