In 2003 and 2005, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration introduced a bill that required background checks to be done by the Department of Homeland Security for newly CDL Hazmat endorsements. These rules have finally been finalized. The finalization of the law was made on October 1st and will go into effect on November 1st. This rule states that drivers with a transportation security card or Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) are excused from obtaining a background check.
In 2003 a temporary rule was changed within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to stop some states from distributing, renewing, transferring, or upgrading a driver’s CDL with hazmat endorsements.
However, this was the case unless the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) first completed a background check and made the decision that the driver was not a security risk.
In 2005 a temporary rule lowered the notice that states must inform drivers that a background check is to be done when renewing their hazmat endorsement. Within this rule, states are required to notify drivers within 180 days or six months before their hazmat endorsement or CDL expires that they are required to pass a background check.
What qualifies as Hazardous Material under this rule?
Under this rule, any material that DOT requires a placard is considered hazardous material. This can include propane, liquid natural gas, gasoline, chlorine, fluorine, ammonia, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, explosive cartridges, radioactive medical waste, infectious substances, and blasting caps. Since these materials can cause death or injury, drivers who transport these hazardous materials are required to have a hazmat endorsement on their CDL.
Who can hold a Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME)?
To have a Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME), drivers must meet the following requirements:
- Be a United States Citizen or permanent resident
- No criminal offenses
- Cannot be deemed mentally incompetent
- Involuntarily committed to a mental institution
- No threat of terrorism
- No risk to national or transportation security
Below are convictions that automatically disqualify drivers with a “lifetime ban” of ever having an HME on their CDL:
- Economic disruption
- Environmental damage
- Illegal use, receipt, transfer, purchase, shipping, transporting, importing, exporting, or storing explosives
- Inappropriate transporting of hazardous materials
- RICO Violation
- The security incident that involves a significant loss of life
- Transportation system disruption
- Planning or attempting to commit any of the above
Can a conviction of a minor placarding violation of transport disqualify someone from HME?
In a short answer, no, this would not disqualify a driver from obtaining an HME on their CDL. However, a driver can be excluded from an HME if they were convicted or found not guilty because of insanity resulting in a felony involving illegal transport of hazardous material.
Is there an appeal process for those who are disqualified from an HME?
Those who have been disqualified from renewing or obtaining an HME on their CDL can appeal on reasons of incorrect information, identity, or an overturned conviction. In some situations, you may be eligible to apply for a waiver if you recognize the conviction or you were not found guilty by the insanity of the offense. If you believe you should be eligible for an HME, you have grounds to appeal the disqualification.
How often should a driver be fingerprinted and qualified?
Typically, you would need to renew your hazmat endorsement every five years. However, some states may require you to have more reviews. Each time you renew your endorsement, you are required to be fingerprinted again. In case you have been convicted of a criminal offense that results in a disqualification of an HME, your hazmat endorsement will be removed. You as a driver, are responsible for reporting any crimes that can pose a threat to your hazmat endorsement.
If you have been disqualified from an HME, there is a seven and five-year waiting period to where you can reapply for your hazmat endorsement.
Does this rule apply to those entering the U.S. from Canada or Mexico?
The finalized rule applies to the United States CDL issued drivers. Typically, this rule does not affect drivers from Canada or Mexico. Instead, there are separate rules that impact Canadian drivers who haul hazardous materials into the United States. Within time, all hazmat drivers will be required to meet the eligibility requirements and threat assessment that apply to the United States hazmat drivers.
If you haul hazardous materials, be sure you are reporting any offenses that could hinder your Hazmat Endorsement. Also, if you hold an HME on your CDL, be sure you are completing the required background checks and assessments. If you are looking to haul hazmat materials and already have your HME, contact Secrest Direct, a Landstar Agent today!