FMCSA Issues New Rule For States & CDL Operators

A new rule impacting CDL drivers goes into effect next month, and states are already working on compliance. These types of regulation changes regarding driver prohibitions at the state level can impact DOT and non-DOT businesses.

The FMCSA is amending regulations requiring State Driver’s Licensing Agencies (SDLA) to use information from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a database that contains driver-specific substance and alcohol records. Drivers may be subject to a CDL downgrade with a positive drug or alcohol test.

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The New Rule & Its Impact on Drivers

The new rule, published earlier this month, applies starting November 8 (state compliance date is November 18, 2024). States will be restricted from renewing, upgrading or transferring CDLs for any driver prohibited from driving due to one or more drug or alcohol violations.

“Currently, most state driver licensing agencies do not receive drug and alcohol program violation information about commercial driver license or commercial learner permit holders licensed in their state,” reported the FMCSA. “Therefore, these SDLAs are unaware when a commercial motor vehicle operator is subject to the driving prohibition, and the operator continues to hold a valid CDL or CLP, despite the driving prohibition.”

In addition, states are required to downgrade the licensure until they can complete Return-To-Duty (RTD) requirements for 60 days.

Drug and Alcohol Violations On the Rise

You may remember previously reported news about the vast number of violations reported by FMCSA Clearinghouse. In fact, Clearinghouse counted over 56,000 violations recorded in 2020. These regulations are in place to make it harder to avoid the required RTD procedure for these prohibited drivers. This in turn makes the roadways – and your industries – safer in the process.

“CDL downgrade requirement rests on the simple, but safety-critical, premise that drivers who cannot lawfully operate a CMV because they engaged in prohibited use of drugs or alcohol or refused a test should not hold a valid CDL or CLP,” reported the FMCSA.

If a driver has a positive test, they may restart the CDL process upon completion of RTD requirements. A negative RTD result is also a stipulation of return to service. The rule ensures drivers with substance abuse violations will be unable to re-attain CDLs until they complete the proper procedures.

Testing Solutions and Answers For Your Business

Your business can enroll in our TEAM Background service if you have concerns beyond alcohol and drug testing.

For questions on the FMCSA Clearinghouse, this new rule impacting CDL drivers and current regulations as well as DOT and non-DOT drug and alcohol testing, contact TEAM Professional Services.