It should not be a surprise to anyone that governments tend to be lazy, even with each other. Federal regulations call for states where drivers are convicted to transmit conviction data to the state where the driver is licensed either electronically via the paperless Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), or by mail, but not both. The thing is that normal mail is slower and harder for which to keep a paper trail (pun intended). As such, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is putting its foot down on the matter.
Federal Register Final Rule on Paperless
Posted to the Federal Register on July 23rd, the final rule from the FMCSA is called “Commercial Driver’s License Standards, Requirements and Penalties; Exclusively Electronic Exchange of Driver History Record Information.” The final rule, which you can read online, is hundreds of words and many pages long, but the summary is this: Come August 23rd, 2024, paper submissions from state to state will be prohibited, and paperless CDLIS is king.
The news comes off the heels of a report from the Department of Transportation Inspector General that inadequate reporting of convictions and disqualifications from state to state have led to unworthy drivers remaining on the road; people have died from a lack of timely notification, in part due to state authorities being lazy (one instance had New Hampshire report an incident electronically to CDLIS 575 days after it occurred), but also due to the amount of time it takes for information to travel by mail.
This is a step in the right direction, but thirty-seven months is a long time for it to get enacted. While bureaucracy crawls, unqualified drivers are still on the road. The odds that nobody gets killed by a driver with a disqualified CDL in the next three years is essentially zero.
Beyond this, not much is done about the true crux of the problem: how states can be slow on the uptake for reporting to the driver’s state of origin, even when doing it electronically. We hate to be negative, but this seems to us as an instance of bread and circuses rather than holding states accountable for inaction.
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