In another action related to the national emergency declared by President Donald Trump on March 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended a temporary waiver of enforcement of regulations that deal with expired CDLs and medical certifications.
Under the waiver, holders of commercial Driver’s licenses (CDLs), commercial learner’s permits (CLPs) and other operators of commercial vehicles in interstate commerce with expiration dates after March 1, 2020, may continue to operate without renewing their licenses until Sept. 30.
Further, drivers with DOT medical certifications of at least 90 days that expire after March 1, 2020, may continue to operate without a new DOT physical exam.
The original FMCSA waiver, set to expire June 30, recognized that state licensing facilities and medical offices that perform DOT physicals may be closed or have restricted hours or staffing, making it difficult or impossible for drivers to renew CDLs or physicals. The waiver is now extended until Sept. 30.
The June 15 waiver differs from the June 8 extension from FMCSA that dealt with hours of service and other requirements in that it is not restricted to drivers who are hauling products essential to “emergency relief.” In this case, the cargo will have no bearing on whether the waiver applies.
The waiver states that FMCSA will not take enforcement action against drivers for operation of a commercial motor vehicle with an expired CDL, CLP or medical card, provided these documents were valid on Feb. 29, 2020. Further, individual states are not required to change the driver’s status to “uncertified” if the medical certificate expires between March 1 and Sept. 30.
The FMCSA release notes that the waiver does not apply to drivers whose credentials expired prior to March 1, or whose CDL or CLP has been suspended or withdrawn due to traffic offenses.
Drivers who have a medical certificate that expired on or after March 1 are required to carry a paper copy of their expired certificate. A driver who has been diagnosed with a condition that would disqualify the driver from operating a commercial vehicle are not covered by the waiver.
As with the June 8 waiver extension, there are special accident-reporting requirements carriers must follow. Carriers are required to report accidents via email to the DOT within five business days. The email address for reporting accidents is [email protected]. FMCSA can revoke rights under the waiver if the driver is involved in an accident or the carrier fails to report it.
As the national emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic remains in effect, waivers like this one are in compliance with the president’s May 19 executive order to provide regulatory relief to support economic recovery. By helping drivers remain at work after their CDLs, CLPs and medical certificates expire, the Trump administration hopes to remove obstacles to reopening the country and returning its economy to full speed.
The full copy of the waiver and other communications from the FMCSA, including the June 8 waiver, is available at fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19. The page contains a link to frequently asked questions about the emergency declaration, as well as other related information.
Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.