U.S. DOT FMCSA Extends COVID-19 CDL Related Waiver in Response to COVID-19 Emergency

February 19, 2021

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Period Covered: March 1, 2021-May 31, 2021

This article is not offered as legal advice but is instead offered for informational purposes only.

On February 16, 2021, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an extension to the previous Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)/Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) and medical examination waivers that were set to expire February 28, 2021. This waiver becomes effective on March 1, 2021 and expires on May 31, 2021. The full waiver extension can be found here.

As with the previous extensions, FMCSA reiterates that the extension “permits, but does not require” states to extend the validity periods and processes referenced below. Accordingly, carriers and drivers should check with the State Driver’s Licensing Agency (SDLA) to confirm their state’s expiration periods. Please read the specific provisions below, as the dates and applicability vary.

What does the waiver do generally?

  • It provides relief from certain regulations applicable to CDL and CPL holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles with a CPL.
  • The waiver extends the renewal period of CDLs and CPLs under specific conditions and associated requirements.
  • There are exceptions in the waiver notice which must be considered and complied with, so it is important to review the waiver notice carefully. See below.
  • There is also a requirement that the FMCSA is notified of accidents involving any CDL holder, CLP holder or non-CDL holder driver operating under the terms of the waiver within 5 business days to MCPSD@DOT.GOV. Details attached.

What does the waiver do, specifically?

  • Waives until May 31, 2021, the maximum period of CDL validity for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020;
  • Waives until May 31, 2021, the maximum period of CLP validity for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests;
  • Waive until May 31, 2021, the requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test;
  • Waives until May 31, 2021, the requirement 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 that were issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after December 1, 2020.
  • Waives until May 31, 2021, the requirement 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 December 1, 2020.
  • Waives until May 31, 2021, the requirement 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 they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after December 1, 2020.
  • Waives until May 31, 2021, the requirement 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 December 1, 2020.
  • Waives until May 31, 2021, that the SDLA initiate a CDL or CLP downgrade upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after December 1, 2020.

 

Exceptions to Consider:

Generally

The waiver does not alter any of the knowledge and skills testing requirements for obtaining either a CDL, a CLP or a necessary endorsement. It does not allow states to extend the license of a CDL or CLP holder whose credential expired prior to March 1, 2020. It 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 commercial motor vehicle. And, this waiver does not authorize states to extend the validity of a non-domiciled CLP or CDL beyond the nondomiciled driver’s approved legal presence.

 

Specifically

  • This waiver does not apply to a CDL or CLP holder if the driver’s license or permit expired before March 1, 2020.
  • This waiver does not apply to a non-domiciled CLP or CDL holder if the non-domiciled driver’s legal presence is not valid.
  • 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.
  • Drivers claiming relief under this waiver from the requirement for a valid medical certificate must have proof of a valid medical certificate and any required medical variance in accordance with the periods of eligibility set forth above, and carry a paper copy of their expired medical certificates.
  • Drivers who cannot produce evidence of a prior medical certification and any required medical variance in accordance with the periods of eligibility set forth above, are not covered under this waiver, including new drivers who have never obtained a medical certification.
  • Drivers who, since their last medical certificate was issued, have been diagnosed with a medical condition that would disqualify the driver from operating in interstate commerce, or who, since their last medical certificate was issued, have developed a condition that requires an exemption or Skill Performance Evaluation from FMCSA are not covered under this waiver.
  • This waiver does not apply to medical examiner’s certificates originally issued for less than 90 days.
  • Notification to FMCSA of Accidents. Each motor carrier must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of an accident (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5), involving any CDL holder, CLP holder, or non-CDL driver operating under the terms of this waiver. See 49 CFR 390.15(b) (requiring maintenance of accident registry.) Notification shall be by email to MCPSD@DOT.GOV. The notification must include the following information:
    • Date of the accident;
    • City or town, and State in which the accident occurred, or closest to the accident scene;
    • Driver’s name and license number;
    • Vehicle number and State license number;
    • Number of individuals suffering physical injury;
    • Number of fatalities;
    • The police-reported cause of the accident (if available at time of the report); and,
    • Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws, or motor carrier safety regulations.
  • FMCSA reserves the right to revoke this waiver for drivers’ involvement in accidents, motor carriers’ failure to report accidents, and drivers’ failure to comply with the restrictions of this waiver.

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