Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA)


What is considered “masking” under the MCSIA?

The state of Missouri requested clarification from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding the masking provisions outlined in the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act that became effective on September 30, 2005.  The following scenarios were addressed and responses published on March 20, 2006.

Note) FMCSA: Generally, for masking or diversion to occur, there first must be a judgment of guilt. For example, masking may occur when the court holds the paperwork on a conviction for some reason and does not allow the State to take appropriate action. Diversion may occur when the court allows a driver – after an adjudication of guilt – to perform alternate services such as traffic school to get the conviction erased.

Situation #1: CDL holder issued traffic citation for Driving While Intoxicated in his private vehicle. Prosecutor reviews the records and determines that there is a problem with the evidence and decides not to prosecute the case, so no charges are filed with court. No conviction is entered.

Response) FMCSA: No violation of 49 CFR §383/384. The federal CDL regulations require a conviction as defined by §383.5. In this case, the evidence did not support the burden of proof to be properly adjudicated by the prosecutor and there were no excepted actions taken to otherwise circumvent the regulations (i.e., no masking or diversion of the offense or penalty).

Situation #2: CMV operator is issued traffic citation for "Careless and Imprudent" driving. Prosecutor files charges for "Careless and Imprudent Driving". Case goes to trial and contrary evidence is presented by operator to show he was not driving in a careless and imprudent manner and court ultimately dismisses the case.

Response) FMCSA: No violation of 49 CFR §383/384. Again, the federal regulations require a conviction and in this case the court found flawed or lacking evidence to convict the driver on the offense cited. There were no excepted actions taken by the court to otherwise circumvent the regulations (i.e., no masking or diversion of the offense or penalty). Ultimately, the driver in this case received his/her day in court and prevailed.

Situation #3: CMV operator issued traffic citation for "Improper lane change in a CMV". Prior to the citation being filed with the court the prosecutor determines to only file the charge as a "defective muffler". Final conviction is for "defective muffler" and that is the only charge ever signed by the prosecutor or filed with the court.

Response) FMCSA: This practice is not in violation of 49 §CFR 384.226 because the violation was reduced before a judgment of guilt was pronounced. Before we can apply the conditions in 49 §CFR 384.226 to determine whether masking has taken place, there has to be a judgment of guilt (conviction) for a violation. The masking provision in 49 CFR §384.226 do not prevent plea bargaining from taking place.

Situation #4: CDL holder is issued a traffic citation for "Excessive Speed" in private vehicle (speeding 75 mph in 60 mph zone). After original charge is filed with court, prosecutor amends original charge to "Speeding 65 mph in a 60 mph zone". Final conviction is for Speeding 65 mph in a 60 mph zone.

Response) FMCSA: This practice is not in violation of 49 §CFR 384.226 because the violation was reduced before a judgment of guilt was pronounced. Before we can apply the conditions in 49 §CFR 384.226 to determine whether masking has taken place, there has to be a judgment of guilt (conviction) for a violation. The masking provision in 49 CFR §384.226 do not prevent plea bargaining from taking place.

Situation #5: CDL holder operating a non-commercial vehicle and is issued a traffic citation for "Failure to Yield Right of Way". Prosecutor files charges for "Failure to Yield Right of Way". Court convicts person of "Failure to Yield Right of Way” and the conviction is posted in the driver’s record, but allows a Driver Improvement Program in lieu of having the director assess points on the Missouri driving record.

Response) FMCSA: The failure to assign "points" does not violate 49 CFR §383/384. However, if the federal regulations required the imposition of a disqualification period for the convicted offense and the court then allowed a Driver Improvement Program in lieu of having the director impose a disqualification for the prescribed period of time this would be in violation of 49 CFR §384.215/284.213/384.231 as a diversion deferral program.

Situation #6: CMV operator is issued a traffic citation for "Operating a CMV while Suspended/Revoked/ Withdrawn". Prosecutor files charges for "Operating CMV while license suspended/revoked/ withdrawn". Final conviction is for "Operating CMV while license suspended/revoked/withdrawn. Later, court allows attorney for CMV operator to withdraw original plea and conviction and after new court hearing, court ultimately enters a conviction for "Improper CDL Class/Endorsement".

Response) FMCSA: This is not in violation of 49 CFR §384.226 because the court vacated (withdrew) the original conviction or adjudication of guilt. By granting the attorney’s request to vacate (withdraw) the original plea and conviction, the court has nullified the conviction. The definition of “conviction” in 49 CFR §383.5 defines a conviction to mean “an unvacated adjudication of guilt”.

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Pursuant to federal and state law, commercial driving privileges may be disqualified if the driver leaves the scene of an accident. What is meant by “leaving the scene of an accident?”

As used in 40 CFR 383, the disqualifying offense of “leaving the scene of an accident involving a CMV” is all-inclusive and covers the entire range of situations where the driver of the CMV is required by state law to stop after an accident and either give information to the other party, render aid, or attempt to locate and notify the operator or owner of other vehicles involved in the accident.

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A CDL holder is convicted of a non-disqualifying offense that occurred in a non-CMV. The driver loses his or her base driving privileges for operating a non-CMV as a result of the conviction. May a state issue a “limited driving privilege” in this instance?

Yes, but such limited driving privileges cannot include commercial driving privileges.

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A driver has been issued multiple tickets for speeding less than fifteen miles per hour over the posted speed limit in a noncommercial vehicle. The driver’s license is suspended due to the accumulation of points. Does the driver lose all privileges to drive any motor vehicle – noncommercial or commercial?

Yes. When the base privilege is suspended because of too many points, the driver loses the ability to drive any motor vehicle during the period of the suspension. Once the base privilege suspension is reinstated, the driver can resume driving both noncommercial and commercial motor vehicles as long as no commercial disqualification was entered. The driver may obtain limited driving privileges to drive noncommercial vehicles during a period of base license suspension but cannot obtain commercial driving privileges.

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Why can't a driver obtain a limited driving privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle?

Missouri law 302.309, RSMo clearly states a CDL driver is no longer able to receive any kind of license to operate a CMV while the driving privilege is under suspension, revocation or disqualification. Limited driving privileges are only available to allow the operation of a noncommercial motor vehicle if the applicant is otherwise eligible.

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If a person is only eligible to receive a limited driving privilege to operate a personal vehicle, does the person have to downgrade the commercial driver license to a non-CDL?

No. The limited driving privilege order states that you are only eligible to operate a class E, F, or M type of vehicle.

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A driver is convicted of a serious motor vehicle offense and moves from the state that will disqualify his license. The driver obtains a driver license in another state prior to the license disqualification and avoids being disqualified immediately. The driver subsequently causes a serious motor vehicle accident and fatally injures two people. Pending state license disqualification proceedings, would this situation qualify for the federal imminent hazard disqualification?

Yes, this situation would fit within the federal definition of imminent hazard.

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Why does the state disqualify a driver’s commercial driving privilege when a traffic ticket is received in a personal vehicle?

According to 49 CFR 383.51 and 302.700, RSMo, CDL drivers who are convicted of certain disqualifying offenses while operating their personal vehicle may have their CDL privilege disqualified. There are some offenses that must be committed in a CMV for disqualification action to be taken.

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Why is the department so strict with CDL drivers?

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA) states that CDL drivers are professional drivers and should be held to a higher standard. The state legislature passed a law in 2004 (Senate Bill 1233) to include the changes from MCSIA into state law. The department is only enforcing the state and federal laws.

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When individuals apply for a CDL, they must advise the license clerk what states they were previously licensed in. Will there be a problem if the applicant knows what states he or she was previously licensed in but cannot remember the license numbers assigned?

No. The license office clerk will be able to check the other states’ records by your name and birth date.

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If you still have questions, please visit other Driver Licensing FAQs.