Hazmat Drivers Subject To Terrorist Background Checks
The federal government is planning to conduct background checks on all 3.5 million commercial truck drivers who transport hazardous materials. Hazardous items include gasoline, explosive cartridges, radioactive and infectious substances, propane, chlorine, acids, ammonia and other poisonous gases.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration announced plans for conducting what the agency called “name-based terrorist focused” background checks to determine whether any drivers present a potential terrorist threat.
Drivers will also undergo an FBI fingerprint based criminal history check to begin no later than January 31, 2005, a delay of eight months beyond the previously scheduled date for this program to begin, April 1, 2004. TSA is providing states additional time to make the significant changes to their existing commercial driver safety and testing programs.
When the program begins, states will be required to collect fingerprints and provide them to the FBI.
The Transportation Security Administration developed this plan to protect against the threat posed by terrorists transporting hazardous materials (hazmat), and to maximize flexibility for the states so the issuance of hazardous materials endorsements is not impeded by security requirements.
The USA Patriot Act requires background checks for all commercial drivers who apply for, renew or transfer a hazmat endorsement. Drivers must renew a hazmat endorsement every five years, although a state may require more frequent renewals.
The act gives the Transportation Security Administration responsibility for collecting and transmitting fingerprints and other information from applicants for hazmat endorsements to the FBI.
The Transportation Security Administration will notify the states of the results of the background checks, and states will either issue or deny hazmat endorsements based on that information.
If a hazmat endorsement is denied, a driver can appeal on grounds of mistaken identity or inaccurate court records.
Drivers who do not wish to transport hazardous materials do not need an endorsement, and drivers who surrender an endorsement will not be subject to a background check.