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Frequently Asked Questions:
Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA)

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What is MCSIA?

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA) is a federal mandate designed to enhance highway safety by ensuring only safe drivers operate commercial motor vehicles. MCSIA improves the commercial driver license (CDL) sanctioning process by strengthening the disqualification process through the expansion of violations that result in disqualification. In addition, MCSIA requires states to disqualify CDL drivers who have high risk traffic offenses in their personal vehicles.

When does MCSIA take effect?

September 30, 2005.

Who is affected?

MCSIA primarily impacts CDL holders.

What is the impact to CDL holders?

  • Additional violations are identified as Major Traffic Offenses (MTO) and Serious Traffic Offenses (STO).
  • Certain Major Traffic Offenses (drug, alcohol and felonies) and a few Serious Traffic Offenses (speeding in a work zone, reckless driving and any violation resulting in a fatality) occurring in a non-commercial motor vehicle (personal vehicle) will count the same in determining driver disqualification.
  • Accelerated Rehabilitative Dispositions (ARD) are treated as convictions for the purpose of imposing CDL sanctions.
  • All moving violations, whether or not they result in a sanction, and regardless of vehicle, become part of the driver record.
  • Fines for operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in violation of an out-of-service order have been increased and now range from $1,100 to $2,750.
  • When applying for an initial issuance, renewal or transfer of a CDL, drivers must disclose all states where they were licensed during the past 10 years.
  • A commercial learner's permit is considered a CDL and the permit holder will be subject to the disqualification and record keeping provisions listed above.

What are the major changes to Major Traffic Offenses (MTO)?

Under MCSIA, the following are Major Traffic Offenses:
  • Driving a CMV while a CDL is revoked, suspended, cancelled or disqualified
  • Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV

What are the changes to Serious Traffic Offenses (STO)?

MCSIA added three new Serious Traffic Offenses:
  • Driving a CMV without obtaining a CDL
  • Driving a CMV without a CDL in the driver's possession
  • Driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsement

Which violations occurring in my personal vehicle will cause disqualification sanctions?

If you are a CDL holder, the Major Traffic Offenses for drugs, alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident and felonies in a personal vehicle will count the same as if the violation occurred in a CMV. Serious Traffic Offenses committed in a personal vehicle count toward CDL sanctions if the violation separately results in a suspension or revocation.

Where can I obtain a listing of all the disqualifying offenses?

A listing of all disqualifying offenses is available on PennDOT's Disqualifications and Traffic Offenses fact sheet.

If I previously had two DUI's in my personal vehicle, am I now disqualified from holding a CDL for life?

No, MCSIA changes are effective September 30, 2005. Violations that were not considered Major or Serious Traffic Offenses prior to MCSIA will not be counted toward CDL sanctions.

If I had a DUI in my CMV before September 30, 2005 and a DUI in my personal vehicle after September 30, 2005, will I be disqualified for life?

Yes. The DUI in the CMV was the first Major Traffic Offense and the DUI in the personal vehicle after September 30, 2005 would be the second Major Traffic Offense. Two Major Traffic Offenses result in a lifetime disqualification of a CDL.

If I am accepted into an ARD program for DUI after September 30, 2005 for a violation that happened in my personal vehicle and later I am convicted of another DUI in my personal vehicle, will I be disqualified for life?

Yes. Both are Major Traffic Offenses which result in a lifetime CDL disqualification.

If I had a DUI violation in my personal car on July 4, 2005 and was convicted on October 3, 2005, does this count as a Major Traffic Offense on my CDL record?

No. The date of violation must be on or after September 30, 2005.

If I am accepted into an ARD program for DUI and my driving privilege is suspended for 30 days, will I get my license back after serving my 30 day suspension?

Assuming this is your first Major Traffic Offense, your driving privilege would be suspended for 30 days and your commercial driving privilege will be disqualified for one year. After serving the 30 day suspension, you can obtain a non-commercial driver's license for the remainder of the disqualification period.

I thought all violations appeared on my driving record. What changes under MCSIA?

Currently, only violations that result in a sanction being imposed (points being assessed or suspension imposed) appear on any driver record. MCSIA requires all moving violations be recorded on the driving record of a CDL holder. One of the most common violations affected by this change is failure to obey traffic control devices (Section 3111 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code). Prior to MCSIA, it was not recorded on a driving record. Under MSIA, this violation, as well as other moving violations, will appear on the record of the CDL holder.

Will my insurance company/employer see these additional violations?

Yes. Anyone authorized by law can obtain a copy of a driving record for a CDL holder and will see all moving violations.

What happens if a driver does not provide information on states where he or she was licensed to drive over the last 10 years?

PennDOT will not be able to issue or renew a CDL for the customer.

What is the impact of a CDL learner's permit being considered a CDL?

It is considered a CDL for sanctioning and record keeping purposes. This means that commercial learner's permit customers will be subject to the disqualification actions occurring in a non-CMV mentioned previously. They are also subject to the provision that all violations be listed as part of the driver record.

Will it cost me more to apply for or renew my CDL as a result of MCSIA?

The fees for applying or renewing a CDL do not change under MCSIA.