FMCSA proposes to tighten CDL documentation, testing rules

Applicants for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and commercial learner’s permits (CLPs) would be required to provide more documentation of their legal presence in the United States under a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The NPRM also would require that CDL applicants first obtain a CLP, and would mandate additional background checks of CDL applicants by state issuers. Many of the proposal’s elements respond to provisions of recent highway and security legislations.

To tighten the rules on legal presence, state driver’s license agencies would be required to verify the applicant’s Social Security Number with the Social Security Administration. Many of the program areas and issues addressed in the NPRM also are covered by the Department of Homeland Security’s final rule implementing the REAL ID Act. FMCSA said it has coordinated its efforts with DHS to avoid overlapping or conflicting requirements, but that there may be a need to further harmonize its rule with the REAL ID rule before it is finalized.

One issue that has been a problem for employers is the failure of some states to recognize driver training in different states. The NPRM would require states to recognize CLPs issued by other states for training purposes. It also would limit the initial and renewal periods for both CLPs and CDLs and clarify under what circumstances an applicant must surrender those licenses or permits.

Successful completion of the knowledge test would be required before a CLP is issued, and the proposal incorporates by reference the latest American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators’ Model Test package for knowledge and skill standards. To reduce the potential for fraud, FMCSA proposes to ban the use of foreign language interpreters in the administration of the knowledge and skills tests.

Comments on FMCSA’s proposal are due June 9. For a copy of the NPRM, visit and search Docket No. FMCSA-2007-27659.