Truckers with expiring licenses and medical cards get breathing room with new FMCSA waiver

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has yet again provided relief for truck drivers who are struggling to renew their licenses, learner’s permits, or medical cards due to the ongoing pandemic.

On December 15, the FMCSA issued a new waiver to provide relief for commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders whose licenses expired after March 1, 2020 and those whose medical cards expired on or after September 1, 2020.

The waiver extension is effective through February 28, 2021, giving drivers a few extra months to renew expired licenses, permits, or medical certificates.

The FMCSA has issued multiple waivers for truck drivers with expiring CDLs, CLPs, and medical certifications. The previous waiver was set to expire on December 31, 2020.

The FMCSA explained that due to the public health emergency, state drivers licensing agencies in many states shut down completely or experienced higher than normal employee absences, making it tough for truckers to get their expiring licenses renewed on time.

The FMCSA also pointed out that many medical care providers have cancelled regular appointments due to the COVID-19 crisis, making it harder for truck drivers to obtain the necessary physical exam to obtain their medical certificate.

See below for the specific actions that the waiver performs:

1. Waives until February 28, 2021, for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, the requirement in 49 CFR 383.73(b)(9) and 383.73(d)(6) that States make CDLs valid for no more than 8 years from the date of issuance or renewal. Under this waiver, States may, at their discretion, extend the validity of CDLs that expired on or after March 1, 2020 beyond the 8-year maximum set forth in the FMCSRs.
2. Waives until February 28, 2021, for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, the requirement in 49 CFR 383.73(a)(2)(iii) and 383.25(c) that States make CLPs valid for no more than one year from the date of issuance without requiring CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests. Under this waiver, States may, at their discretion, extend the validity of CLPs that expired on or after March 1, 2020 beyond the one-year maximum set forth in the FMCSRs without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
3. Waives until February 28, 2021, the requirement under 49 CFR 383.25(e) that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test.
4. Waives until February 28, 2021, the requirement under 49 CFR 391.45 that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5T such as an exemption letter or a skill performance evaluation certificate) that was issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after September 1, 2020.
5. Waives until February 28, 2021, the requirement under 49 CFR 383.71(h)(3) that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the SDLA with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate and any required medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020.
6. Waives until February 28, 2021, the requirement under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(2) that the SDLA 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 that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020.
7. Waives until February 28, 2021, the requirements under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(4) 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 September 1, 2020.
8. In accordance with 49 CFR 383.23(a)(1) and 391.41(a)(1)(i), until February 28, 2021, FMCSA continues to recognize the validity of commercial driver’s licenses issued by Canadian Provinces and Territories and Licencias Federales de Conductor issued by the United Mexican States, in accordance with 49 CFR part 383, when such jurisdictions issue a similar notice or declaration extending the validity date of the medical examination and certification and/or validity of the corresponding commercial driver’s license due to interruption to government service resulting from COVID-19.

Please click here to view the full waiver.