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FMCSA withdraws third-party and out-of-state CDL testing rulemakings


In two separate notices to be published on March 9, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is formally withdrawing CDL-related rulemakings that would have provided some flexibility to the knowledge and skills testing process.


In the first notice, the agency is withdrawing a proposed rule that would have allowed driver applicants to take the commercial driver’s license (CDL) general and specialized knowledge tests in a state other than the applicants state of domicile. That rule would have also mandated that domicile states accept the knowledge test results issued by a testing state.


The agency solicited comments on its proposal. Several commenters noted that the proposed rule would benefit driver training schools and motor carriers by enhancing efficiency of the training process, thereby helping to alleviate driver shortages. As one commenter explained, a more efficient testing process will encourage more drivers to apply for a CDL, which means “more opportunities to fill the gap between the supply and demand of commercially-licensed drivers.”


However, after considering other comments--mainly those by state licensing agencies--the agency has elected to not move forward with the proposal.

The NPRM was intended to promote further flexibility in the CDL issuance process without negatively impacting safety. All State commenters noted, however, that due to process complexities associated with the proposed change, SDLAs would need to implement significant changes to accommodate the receipt of out-of-State knowledge test results. Given States’ security and operational concerns surrounding out-of-State knowledge testing, including remote delivery of the CLP credential, FMCSA concludes the proposed change is not advisable at this time.

In its second notice, the FMCSA is withdrawing a proposed rule that would have authorized States to permit a third party skills test examiner to administer the CDL skills test to applicants to whom the examiner has also provided skills training. This practice is, and will now remain, unlawful under the current rules.


Again, the agency solicited and reviewed several comments on this proposal and ultimately elected to not move forward with it. Some commenters supporting the proposal said that it would increase flexibility and efficiencies for both applicants and third party testers and would alleviate skills testing delays. But others feared the rule change would facilitate fraudulent CDL transactions.

FMCSA acknowledges the NPRM’s potential for increasing the efficiency and flexibility of the skills testing process and reducing skills test delays. The Agency is persuaded, however, by numerous comments citing the NPRM’s potential for undermining the integrity of the CDL skills testing process and negatively impacting highway safety. FMCSA has therefore decided to retain the current regulation (49 CFR 383.75(a)(7)) prohibiting States from permitting a third party skills test examiner to administer the CDL skills test to applicants to whom the examiner has also provided skills training.

If you have questions about the agency's notices or how they will impact your fleet, please feel free to contact us.

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