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A hazardous materials (HAZMAT) endorsement opens up new opportunities for truckers with a commercial driver's licence (CDL). Under the federal Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) however, certain crimes can disqualify you from getting a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME).
Applying for a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME)
Under the USA PATRIOT Act, states cannot issue HMEs on commercial licenses unless the TSA has evaluated the risk that a driver poses to national security. Any CDL holder seeking an HME must apply to the TSA for a threat assessment through the Hazardous Material Endorsement Enrollment Website.The process includes a criminal records check, and certain offenses make it difficult or impossible to get a HAZMAT endorsement. The TSA divides these offenses into three categories: interim or temporary disqualifiers, permanent disqualifiers with possible waiver or appeal, and permanent disqualifiers with no waiver or appeal.
Interim or Temporary Disqualifiers
The TSA treats a wide range of crimes as potential disqualifiers for the HME, and most only disqualify HME applicants with recent disqualifying offenses. Convictions for certain crimes will bar an applicant released from prison within the past five years - seven if the applicant was found not guilty because of insanity. Offenses in this category include assault, kidnapping, racketeering, weapons violations, fraud, smuggling and distribution of illegal drugs, among others. Applicants can still get an HME in spite of such crimes by appealing or by convincing the TSA to waive restrictions.
Permanent Disqualifiers with Possible Waiver or Appeal
Some crimes will permanently disqualify an HME applicant, but an appeal or waiver of restrictions is still possible. These offenses are generally more serious than interim or temporary disqualifiers, or relate more closely to the transportation of hazardous material. A murder conviction falls into this category, for example, but so does the criminal mishandling of hazardous materials, or illegal handling or transportation of explosives. These offenses also differ from interim disqualifiers in that it does not matter when the offenses took place.
Permanent Disqualifiers with No Waiver or Appeal.
The TSA will not consider any waiver or appeal for a limited category of crimes including terrorism, espionage, sedition or treason. A driver convicted of such offenses is not eligible for an HME, no matter how much time has passed since he or she committed the disqualifying crime.
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Chris Malcolm is a writer with a background in journalism, law and politics. A former student journalist and editor, he now works as a writer, researcher and consultant. Malcolm holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas and an M.A. in indigenous governance from the University of Victoria.