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FMCSA extends and amends COVID-19 emergency exemption

August 31, 2022, is the new end date

Posted June 1, 2022

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has once again extended the exemption to 49 CFR 395.3 that was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency’s Emergency Declaration was due to expire on May 31, 2022. The agency is again extending the exemption, this time until August 31, 2022, because of COVID-19’s continuing impact on supply chains.

FMCSA has also amended the exemption to add diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to the list of products that qualify for the exemption and remove from the list “supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of” the pandemic, such as building materials.

Emergency declaration

The emergency exemption provides hours-of-service relief to qualifying motor carriers supporting pandemic relief efforts and applies to the transportation of a limited list of commodities, including:

  • Livestock and livestock feed;
  • Medical and sanitation supplies, vaccines, and related products and equipment for the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, and for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19;
  • Food, paper products, and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores; and
  • Gasoline, diesel, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), jet fuel, ethyl alcohol, and heating fuel including propane, natural gas, and heating oil.

The latest extension continues to offer relief from the hours-of-service limits in 49 CFR 395.3. This means eligible drivers are not required to have a minimum amount of rest and may drive after the normal 11-hour driving limit, 14-hour duty limit, and/or 60/70-hour weekly limit. They must be in compliance, however, with all other federal safety requirements related to driver qualification, vehicle inspections and maintenance, drug and alcohol testing, licensing, cargo securement, etc. They also must log their time as they normally would, whether using paper logs, electronic logs, or short-haul time records.

Reporting requirement remains

Carriers must continue to report their usage of the emergency exemption to the FMCSA. Specifically, motor carriers that use the exemption must log in to their FMCSA Portal account within five days after the end of each month to report their use of the exemption. Carriers are to access the “Emergency Declaration Reporting” tool under the “Available FMCSA Systems” section on the Portal website.

The latest exemption declaration went into effect at 12:00 A.M. (ET), June 1, 2022, and shall remain in effect until 11:59 P.M. (ET), August 31, 2022, unless modified or revoked sooner.

This article was written by Jen Loomis of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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