Tanker Endorsement Regulations: Are You Driving Illegally?


Tanker Endorsement Regulations: Are You Driving Illegally?

Tanker endorsement is one of those regulations that often get some buzz in the trucking industry for CDL holders. What is it? Why is it needed? When did this become enforced? The information that has been published about this online is fairly vague, so we’d like to set some facts straight to help you ensure that you’re hauling your liquid or gaseous freight legally.

Do I Need a Tanker Endorsement?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has rolled out a regulation meant to keep the roads safe from commercial drivers carrying large amounts of liquid or gaseous freight without the proper training. In order to do this, the FMCSA changed the definition of a “tanker,” which, in turn, has changed the requirements for which drivers are required to hold a “tanker endorsement” on their CDL.  This change means that even those who are driving dry vans, reefers, flatbeds, and box trucks will be required to hold the endorsement if they meet the requirements below. If the following conditions occur, you are responsible for obtaining a tanker endorsement on your CDL:

  1. Your cargo includes liquid or gaseous individual containers larger than 119 gallon capacity.
  2. The containers are loaded, and not empty.
  3. The total combined volume in those containers exceeds 1,000 gallons.

Where is it Enforced?

All states began enforcing this regulation in July 2015.

When Did it Become Law?

The tanker endorsement regulation was originally debuted by the FMCSA in 2011 and it was said then that all states must be in line and enforcing by July 2014. Since that date passed and not all states were on board, this caused quite the confusion for national carriers. The FMSCA finally pushed a hard deadline of July 2015 for enforcing the law.

What are the Consequences of Not Abiding by the Law?

If commercial drivers are found to be driving without the proper tanker endorsement (if their load meets the regulation requirements) they can be charged a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per instance, as well as possible license suspension for up to 90 days, according to the FMCSA Section 383.53.

In other words, this regulation should not be taken lightly. If you don’t follow the law, your job could be on the line.

Why Haven’t I Heard About it?

This law may come as a surprise to many, as there wasn’t much media coverage when it was first unveiled in May of 2011. The reason why there wasn’t much talk was likely because there was a three year delay from its creation to the original enforcement date of July 2014. Then years went by with some states taking the regulation into consideration, and others ignoring it, since they were not legally required to enforce it.

How Do I Get the Endorsement?

To get the endorsement, simply go to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), request the Tanker Endorsement Knowledge Test and pay the fees, which average around twenty dollars. There are a few practice tests available online, like this one.

The smart move is to go ahead and get the tanker endorsement on your license as soon as possible if you plan on carrying any significant volume of liquid and gaseous material, hazardous or not. The process of getting the endorsement is extremely minimal compared to the consequences of being caught without it.

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Note: The information provided in this article is up-to-date at the time of publishing. Trinity Logistics cannot be held responsible if any driver is caught without a tanker endorsement while traveling through a state which was listed as not enforcing the rule at time of publishing. 

Originally written December 4, 2014. Updated by Christine Griffith