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FMCSA updates COVID-19 medical and licensing waiver with some modifications

New waiver expires on February 28, 2021

Posted December 21, 2020

Due to the continued COIVD-19 health emergency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is extending and modifying a waiver that covers expired drivers’ licenses and medical certification.

The revised waiver is in effect January 1, 2021, and expires February 28, 2021. The previous waiver is due to expire on December 31, 2020.

Revised terms for licensing waiver

The licensing portion of the waiver applies to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and learner’s permit (CLP) holders.

Drivers whose license expired since March 1, 2020, must renew their license no later than February 28, 2021. This waiver does not apply to a CDL or CLP holder if the driver’s privileges have been suspended or withdrawn for traffic offenses or if the driver is otherwise disqualified to operate a CMV.

States may, at their discretion, extend the validity of CDLs qualifying for the waiver beyond the 8-year maximum prescribed in FMCSA regulations.

CLP drivers (whose permit expired since March 1, 2020) are waived from the following requirements through February 28, 2021:

  • Retaking the general and endorsement knowledge tests; and
  • Waiting 14 days to take the CDL skills test.

Revised terms for medical certification waiver

Though some drivers will end up being able to extend their licenses for nearly a year, it’s a different story with medical certificates.

Drivers who are required to have a medical card (i.e., CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers) must meet specific criteria in order to extend their medical certification through February 28, 2021.

Under the new waiver, a driver can qualify to get an extension on an expiring medical card if:

  • His or her existing card expired on or after September 1, 2020;
  • The existing card was issued for at least 90 days;
  • The driver has not been diagnosed with a disqualifying medical condition since the previous medical exam; and
  • The driver carries a copy of his or her expired medical certificate and any required variance.

CDL and CLP holders that qualify also are waived from the requirement to provide their state driver’s licensing agency (SDLA) with a copy of a new medical examiner’s certificate before the previous certification expires. SDLAs have been waived from having to downgrade a CDL or CLP holder’s license for failure to provide this proof of current medical qualifications.

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

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