Drivers who have been unable to renew their drivers’ licenses or medical cards due to the coronavirus outbreak have been given a little more time to get their renewals.
The FMCSA has granted a waiver from certain commercial driver’s license (CDL), commercial learner’s permit (CLP), and medical-certification requirements due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The waiver allows eligible drivers to operate with an expired driver’s license and/or medical card until June 30, 2020, if they were unable to renew them due to the emergency.
The outbreak has caused widespread closure of licensing agencies, and some drivers and medical examiners are (understandably) unwilling to break self-quarantine to receive or perform a medical exam.
Interstate and intrastate CMV drivers temporary waiver
The temporary waiver took effect on March 20, 2020. It applies to interstate and intrastate CDL and CLP holders, as well as all interstate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers required to carry a medical certificate.
Drivers who held a valid CDL, CLP, and/or medical card as of February 29, 2020, that expired on or after March 1, 2020, may continue to drive with the expired license, permit, or certificate until June 30.
Under the medical-card waiver, drivers need to carry proof that they held a valid medical certificate that expired on or after March 1, 2020, and that had been valid for at least 90 days.
The FMCSA says it will not penalize states that do not downgrade the licenses of CDL/CLP drivers whose medical cards expire. Most states are expected to follow the FMCSA’s lead and stop the downgrading process.
Other conditions and restrictions on FMCSA waiver
The FMCSA’s waiver announcement includes several conditions and restrictions:
- The waiver does not apply to any CDL or CLP holder whose license expired before March 1, 2020, nor to any CDL or CLP holder whose driving privileges have been suspended or withdrawn for traffic offenses.
- Drivers operating with an expired medical certificate must carry a copy of the expired certificate.
- New drivers who have never obtained a medical certificate cannot claim the waiver.
- Drivers are not eligible for the medical-card waiver if they have been diagnosed, since their last medical certificate was issued, with a medical condition that would disqualify them from operating in interstate commerce.
- The waiver does not apply to medical examiner’s certificates originally issued for less than 90 days.
Accident notification on FMCSA waiver
The FMCSA’s waiver requires that motor carriers notify the agency of any DOT-recordable crashes that occur involving drivers using the waiver. The notification must be made within five business days by email to MCPSD@DOT.GOV, and must include:
- The date and location of the accident;
- The driver’s name and license number;
- The vehicle number and state license number;
- The number of fatalities and injuries;
- The police-reported cause of the accident (if available); and
- Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws or motor carrier safety regulations.
Specific FMCSRs affected
The emergency waiver offers relief from the following requirements found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations:
- The maximum eight-year renewal period for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020. (49 CFR 383.73(b)(9) and 383.73(d)(6))
- The maximum one-year renewal period for CLPs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests. (49 CFR 383.73(a)(2)(iii) and 383.25(c))
- The requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test. (49 CFR 383.25(e))
- The requirement that drivers have a medical examination and certificate, provided 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. (49 CFR 391.45)
- The requirement 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. (49 CFR 383.71(h)(3))
- The requirement that 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 the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020. (49 CFR 383.73(o)(2))
- The requirement 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. (49 CFR 383.73(o)(4))
Drivers using the waiver must continue to comply with all other applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
The FMCSA says it expects the states to promptly bring their CDL and CLP issuance practices back into compliance as soon as the national emergency ends or as soon as the state is able to do so, whichever is sooner.
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