In addition to the recent emergency declaration that temporarily relaxed some federal safety regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a waiver that will affect some commercial drivers. On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the FMCSA announced a limited waiver for commercial drivers whose commercial drivers licenses (CDLs), commercial learner’s permits (CLPs), operator’s licenses, and/or medical cards have expired, or are set to expire after March 1, 2020.
The Effects of COVID-19 on Commercial Drivers
The announcement of this waiver comes on the heels of widespread closures of both medical clinics and individual state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices related to the COVID-19 outbreak. These closures have made it increasingly difficult for drivers to renew these licenses and medical cards before they expire.
The waiver took effect immediately (March 24) and will remain in effect until June 30, 2020. It is important to note that the waiver extends the expiration date to June 30 for any license or medical card set to expire between March 1 and June 30. Commercial drivers are still required to have an appropriate license to operate their vehicles and be considered by a certified medical examiner to be “physically qualified” to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
What Does the FMCSA CDL Waiver Cover?
The FMCSA’s waiver specifically:
- Extends until June 30, 2020 the maximum period of CDL validity by waiving Sections 383.73(b)(9) and 383.73(d)(6) for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020.
- Extends until June 30, 2020 the maximum period of CLP validity by waiving Sections 383.73(a)(2)(iii) and 383.25(c) for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
- Waives the requirement in Section 383.25(e) that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test.
- Waives the requirement in Section 391.45 that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification that was issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
- Waives the requirement in Section 383.71(h)(3) that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the State Driver Licensing Agency with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
- Waives the requirement in Section 383.73(o)(2) that the State Driver Licensing Agency change the CDL or CLP holder’s medical certification status to “not certified” upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
- Waives the requirements in Section 383.73(o)(4) that the State Driver Licensing Agency initiate a CDL or CLP downgrade upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
Furthermore, there are a few scenarios in which this waiver does not apply. According to the FMCSA, this includes any licenses that expired before March 1, 2020, any drivers whose privileges have been suspended or withdrawn for traffic offenses, drivers who cannot produce a medical certification, drivers who have developed a medical condition since their last examination that would disqualify them from operating in interstate commerce, and drivers whose expiring medical card was originally issued for less than 90 days.
The FMCSA also announced that it had issued an Enforcement Notice. The notice explains that the FMCSA will “exercise its enforcement discretion to not take enforcement action” on any drivers or carriers that meet the terms of the waiver.
Transportation Solutions and Insight From Trimble
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