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FMCSA extends medical and licensing waivers with some modifications

Drivers have until December 31st to renew licenses, but may have lesser time for med cards

Posted September 22, 2020

Newly updated waivers and enforcement policies from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mean some drivers will continue to be exempt from certain licensing and medical qualification requirements through the end of the year.

The new waivers are effective October 1, 2020, and expire December 31, 2020. The agency published similar waivers earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent are due to expire on September 30, 2020.

The waivers and enforcement policies apply to intrastate and interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and interstate non-CDL drivers.

Many commercial drivers continue to struggle with renewing their licenses or providing proof of medical certification to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) due limited operations. In addition, drivers may still experience difficulties in scheduling appointments with certified medical examiners due to limited operations or backlogs.

Driver’s license extension

The waiver extends until December 31, 2020:

  • The general licensing requirements in §391.11(b)(5). A commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver (i.e., CLP, CDL, or non-CDL license holder) or motor carrier that allows a driver to operate a CMV during a period in which the driver’s operator license has expired is not in violation, providing:
    • The driver’s license was valid on February 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020; and
    • The driver is otherwise qualified to drive under §391.11.
  • The maximum period of CDL or CLP validity for licenses due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020.
  • The requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test.

Medical qualifications

FMCSA revised the dates of eligibility to waive the medical qualification requirements.

For drivers whose medical certification (issued for at least 90 days) expired:

  • On or after March 1, 2020, but before June 1, 2020, the need to renew medical certification is waived until October 31, 2020.
  • On or after June 1, 2020, the need to renew medical certification is waived until December 31, 2020.

The waiver does not apply if the driver has developed a disqualifying condition since his or her last medical certification.

The SDLA process of changing a CDL or CLP driver’s medical status to “not certified” and initiating a license downgrade upon the expiration of medical certification has also been waived. Drivers eligible for the waiver are not required to provide an updated medical certificate to the SDLA until they are required to obtain a new medical certificate based on the timeline above. FMCSA does not anticipate waiving the medical certification requirements beyond October 31, 2020, for drivers whose medical certification or variance expired before June 1, 2020. Other updated waivers The FMCSA has also extended waivers that:

  • Allow the person accompanying a CLP holder to ride somewhere other than the front seat, as long as the CLP holder has passed the CDL skills test;
  • Allow states to perform skills tests on out-of-state CDL applicants; and
  • Allow certain third-party CDL test examiners to administer the CDL knowledge test without completing a CDL knowledge test training course.

Notification of FMCSA crashes

Motor carriers must notify FMCSA within five business days of an accident (as defined in §390.5) involving a driver operating under the terms of either waiver. Notification must contain the data elements prescribed in the waiver and sent via email to the agency.

This article was written by Kathy Close of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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