February 2005 Newsletter > Are You Fingerprint Compliant?

Are You Fingerprint Compliant?

Background Checks Now Required for Hazmat Truck Drivers

As part of its Hazmat Threat Assessment Program, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now requires the collection of biographical information and fingerprints from applicants who wish to obtain a new Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) on their state-issued Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This requirement became effective for new HME applicants on January 31, 2005. Individuals who wish to renew or transfer an existing HME may begin submitting biographical information and fingerprints with their HME application as early as March 1, 2005, but this information will be required as of May 31, 2005.

On May 5, 2003, the TSA published a rule to secure the transportation of hazardous materials (Hazmat) and explosives. TSA issued the rule as a result of requirements in the USA PATRIOT Act and the Safe Explosives Act. This rule is a companion to a rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which prohibits states from issuing a Hazmat endorsement on a CDL without first determining whether or not an individual seeking to transport hazardous materials poses a security risk. FMCSA’s rule also requires states to require renewal of a driver’s Hazmat endorsement at least every five years.

TSA implemented the Hazmat Threat Assessment Program to meet the requirements of the USA PATRIOT Act, and to ensure that commercial drivers who seek to apply for, renew, or transfer an HME on their state-issued CDL undergo a required security threat assessment, which includes a fingerprint-based FBI criminal history records check, an intelligence-related check, and immigration status verification.

Who is affected by the rule?
Only commercial drivers who wish to transport hazardous materials requiring vehicle placards under DOT regulations must undergo threat assessments. This rule does not apply to applicants for or holders of a CDL who do not wish to transport hazardous materials. There are currently no plans to require fingerprints and background checks of drivers who haul non-hazardous materials, but TSA is looking at a plan to issue credentials to all transportation workers.

For purposes of the rule, a hazardous material is considered to be any material that requires placarding under the DOT hazardous materials regulations. Hazardous materials include many items that play a critical role in our daily lives, such as gasoline; propane and liquid natural gas; ammonia; chlorine and fluorine; hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid; radioactive medical waste; explosive cartridges and blasting caps; and infectious substances such as anthrax. Because of the potential these materials have for causing death or serious injury, commercial truck drivers who transport them require a special endorsement to their CDL.

Any commercial driver who wishes to surrender his or her Hazmat endorsement will not be asked to undergo fingerprinting under the rule. Drivers who may be disqualified from carrying hazardous materials due to past criminal convictions will not lose their right to hold a CDL or to transport non-hazardous cargo.

In Colorado, drivers must renew their Hazmat endorsement every four years, although some States may require more frequent reviews. Drivers will be required to submit new fingerprints at the time of renewal of the endorsement.

Disqualifying Offenses
A driver will be disqualified from holding a Hazmat endorsement if the driver was ever convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a felony involving improper transportation of a hazardous material. Minor violations involving transportation of hazardous materials, including minor roadside infractions or placarding violations, will not disqualify a driver from obtaining or renewing a Hazmat endorsement. Under the rules governing the Hazmat Threat Assessment Program, an applicant will be disqualified from holding an HME if they:

  • Have been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity in a military or civilian court for any of the permanently disqualifying crimes;

  • Have been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity in a military or civilian court within the past seven years for a felony on the list of disqualifying crimes;

  • Have been released from prison within the past five years for any of the disqualifying crimes;

  • Are currently under want, warrant or indictment for a felony on the list of disqualifying crimes;

  • Have been declared mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

To see the list of felonies considered to be disqualifying offenses under the rule, go to www.hazprints.com, "TSA Hazmat Program" tab, and half way down will be the "Disqualifying Crimes" link.

If a threat assessment indicates that a driver does not meet standards set forth under the rule, TSA notifies the endorsement holder or applicant of the initial finding that a disqualifying event or status exists. If TSA makes a final determination that an individual poses a security threat, TSA will direct the state to revoke that person’s Hazmat endorsement. If TSA discovers that a person has outstanding criminal or immigration violations warrants, that information will be transmitted to the proper authorities.

NOTE: Drivers that have been convicted of a disqualifying criminal offense or no longer meet the standards, their endorsement will be revoked and they must voluntarily and immediately surrender their Hazmat endorsement to the State in which they hold the HME.

It is also important to note that drivers who have certain disqualifying criminal offenses may be allowed to reapply for Hazmat endorsements after the rule’s seven- and five-year waiting periods have expired.

Waiver and Appeal Process
Individuals who undergo a TSA security threat assessment and receive notification that they are disqualified from holding an HME will be told why they were disqualified (unless the information is classified), and the candidate may appeal TSA’s determination, or under some circumstances, request a waiver. TSA must respond to an appeal or waiver within 30 days of receiving the request (although TSA can grant itself an extension of time for good cause). At the end of the period, if an appeal or waiver is granted or not granted, TSA will notify the applicant and the State that the driver is qualified or disqualified, respectively, from holding a Hazmat endorsement. For more information on the waiver process, go to: www.hazprints.com, “TSA Hazmat Program” tab, and halfway down will be the “Waiver & Appeal Process” section. The Hazmat Waiver Guidelines link within that section outlines how individuals who have been disqualified but still believe they should be able to hold an HME may submit a request for a waiver from TSA.

Fingerprint Processing Fees
Congress did not appropriate funds to cover the cost of the security threat assessment, and so a fee is charged to recover those costs. Therefore, individual truckers and/or their employers must pay for the security threat assessment. Currently, State motor vehicle departments require drivers to bear all the costs of applying for a Hazmat endorsement to a CDL.

Applications to have fingerprints taken must be made online at: www.hazprints.com, or by phone, 1-877-429-7746. The fee for the fingerprint process is $94.00 and can be paid by credit card, electronic check, or money order made payable to: Integrated Biometric Technology, LLC.

Colorado Fingerprint Locations
8333 Greenwood Blvd. Ste. 2g
Denver, Co 80221

Site Hours:
M-F 8:30am - 4:30pm
Sat. by appointment
Sun. Closed

1255 Lake Plaza Dr. Ste. 100
Colorado Springs, Co 80906

Site Hours:
M-W 8:00am - 5:00pm
Th & F 8:30am - 5:30pm
Sat. & Sun by appointment

For more information on Final Rules, amendments and exemptions regarding the execution of the Hazmat Threat Assessment Program, please refer to www.hazprints.com, “TSA Hazmat Program” tab, “Rules Governing the Hazmat Threat Assessment Program” section.

Information regarding these issues can also be accessed through TSA’s homepage at: www.tsa.gov.