Commercial Learner's Permit Rule Published

Effective July 8, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's final rule requires a CLP driver to meet virtually the same requirements as a CDL driver, and the same disqualification penalties apply.

A final rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spells out what states must do to issue a commercial learner's permit (CLP) as a prerequisite to holding a commercial driver's license. The final rule will take effect July 8; it requires a CLP driver to meet virtually the same requirements as a CDL driver, and the same disqualification penalties apply to both. Section 4122 of the current federal highway funding law required DOT to issue regulations on minimum uniform standards for the issuance of CLPs.

The knowledge test that is a prerequisite for the CDL is also required to earn the CLP. States must use driver and examiner reference materials, testing questions and exercises, and testing methods FMCSA has pre-approved. Applicants must be at least 18 years old to obtain a CLP, they must hold it for a minimum of 14 days before applying for a CDL, and the tamperproof CLP may bear only these endorsements: a restricted passenger (P) endorsement, a school bus (S) endorsement, and a tank vehicle (N) endorsement. A driver's record must be created for each CLP holder in the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS), an information system for exchanging commercial driver licensing information among all states.

FMCSA proposed its CLP standards three years ago and received 103 comments in response. This final rule includes provisions to prevent fraudulent testing and licensing, including requiring verification of Social Security numbers, requiring CLP and CDL applicants to prove they are legally in the United States, requiring computer system controls to allow overrides by supervisory personnel only, and requiring background checks and formal training for all test examiners. It says language interpreters may not be used for the knowledge and skills tests.

States have three years to come into compliance, with a July 8, 2014, compliance date given for meeting the requirements of subpart B of 49 CFR part 384.

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