FMCSA Proposes Latest Rule to Alleviate Burdens to Obtaining CDL

Students loading bus

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is seeking to remove financial barriers for new CDL applicants who obtain their learner’s permit in their state of residence but want to attend a training program that is provided in another state.

FMCSA announced the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Wednesday, July 24. A spokesman explained that the current regulation, 49 CFR §383.71(a)(2)(vi), requires proof of state residency, in order to obtain a commercial leaner’s permit. The home state then issues the commercial learner’s permit.

This requires applicants to return to their home state to take a knowledge test before they can obtain their CDL, explained Duane DeBruyne of FMCSA’s Office of Public Affairs.

He added that the proposed rule would allow a CDL applicant with a commercial learner’s permit in-hand, that includes any specialized restrictions or limitations, to drive in or move to another state where they have a part- or full-time job,

“Under the proposal, states would have the prerogative to conduct the knowledge tests for individuals who possessed a commercial learner’s permit issued by a different state,” DeBruyne told School Transportation News on Thursday. “The testing state would then send the test results to the individual’s home state, [which] in turn would issue the CDL.”

States would not be required to offer the knowledge tests to out-of-state applicants. If a state chooses to do so, it would be able to transmit the results to the applicant’s state of domicile, which would then be required to accept the results.


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FMCSA said the proposal is the latest effort to reduce regulatory barriers for CDL applicants. In March, the agency authored a final rule that streamlines the process and reduces costs to upgrade from a Class B to Class A CDL. FMCSA added that the deregulatory action is expected to save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually.

Then in June, FMCSA published a deregulatory proposal to streamline and simplify the process that states are currently required to follow when conducting skills tests for individuals seeking to obtain a CDL. With the goal of reducing administrative costs and helping to alleviate testing delays, FMCSA said that the proposal seeks to reduce administrative costs and testing delays by eliminating “needless inconvenience and expense to CDL applicants.”

“Reducing burdens and expenses on CDL applicants has the potential to increase the number of available drivers,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez in a statement on Wednesday. “With the American economy continuing to grow at a record pace, the need for more commercial drivers is critical. This proposal offers common-sense regulatory changes that will help CDL applicants, without compromising safety.”