Incomplete security steps threaten drivers’ CDLs

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About 180 Illinois truck drivers could lose their commercial driver’s licenses because of hazmat endorsement problems. Truck drivers with hazmat endorsements were notified 90 days before their CDL expiration date and informed of the requirements needed to renew the license with the hazmat endorsement, said Terry Montalbano, CDL administrator for the Illinois Secretary of State.

The requirements include going to the Department of Motor Vehicles and filling out a Transportation Security Administration threat assessment and getting fingerprinted. Montalbano said drivers received a reminder at the 60-day mark if they had not yet taken care of both requirements.

In recent weeks, 506 drivers faced losing their license because at least one TSA background check requirement had not been completed, Montalbano said. Those drivers were sent a notice giving them 10 days to remove the hazmat endorsement from their license or get fingerprinted and approved by the TSA before their CDL was cancelled.

As of Friday, Aug. 4, 10 days after the notice went out, 324 drivers had responded to the letter and had either gotten fingerprinted or dropped the hazmat endorsement. Those drivers who dropped the endorsement would have to complete the background check process again. Montalbano said his office tried to facilitate the process by notifying organizations within the Illinois trucking industry so that they could give the information to their members.

Montalbano said as of July 27, all drivers are being referred to fingerprint vendors affiliated with Integrated Biometric Technology, a company contracted to TSA that has the software necessary to get fingerprints and information directly to the agency. This will eliminate problems such as vendors taking unreadable prints or leaving off required information, which caused some of the background checks to be incomplete, he said. It will also allow drivers to get their fingerprinting done in 35 states outside of Illinois.