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CDL Reciprocity

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BACKGROUND

On May 9, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgated new regulations reforming CDL testing and Commercial Learner’s Permit standards.1 These new regulations sought greater uniformity of skills testing and will allow non-domiciled CDL applicants to take their CDL skills test in a State other than their State of domicile.2 Assuming the applicant passes, the skills test results are to be transmitted to the State of domicile and the State of domicile would issue a CDL.3 These rules were originally supposed to go into effect July 8, 2014, but FMCSA extended the compliance deadline for this final rule to July 8, 2015.4

CURRENT PROBLEM

Beginning in 2015, States may allow skills testing of out of state students, and the state of domicile will then have to accept the results from an out of state CDL skills test.5 While FMCSA comments suggest the intention to have uniformity and reciprocity, the actual language of the regulation may prevent the FMCSA’s intention from becoming a reality. There is nothing in the language of 49 CFR § 383.79 that requires the State receiving the out of state’s skill test results from actually issuing a CDL to their State domiciled applicant. The regulation simply directs that the state must accept the results. This is both problematic and antithetical to a core tenet of the regulation, and CVTA fears that without clarification, States will not issue out of state tested applicants a CDL. The result of which is additional expense to the driver, and an unnecessary delay in reporting for work after being accepted for employment (or even the loss of the employment opportunity itself).

Many CVTA schools educate out of state students and are often the only training locations available to those who live near a neighboring state’s border. Therefore, for example, it may be easier for a student in Western Iowa to attend a school in Nebraska if the Nebraska school location is closer than other training schools in Iowa. Another scenario is a student in New York who may select a school in Ohio for training because they have relatives in Ohio with whom they can stay while training. Allowing students to utilize out of state testing will mean our institutions can help meet growing industry demands on filling the widening gap between driver openings and available drivers. As truck drivers are in very high demand, maintaining reciprocity for out of state testing is both good policy and good economics. Therefore, CVTA requests that Congress direct FMCSA to clarify 49 CFR § 383.79 to require States to issue a CDL when an applicant passes an out of state test.


1 Commercial Driver’s License Testing and Commercial Learner’s Permit Standards Final Rule, 76 Fed. Reg. 26854-26897 (May 9, 2011) (codifying 49 CFR 383.79 allowing Skills Testing of Out-of-State Students).
2 Id.
3 Id. at 26859.
4 78 Fed. Reg. 17875, 17877 (March 25, 2013)
5 49 CFR § 383.79