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Driver issuesNewsTrucking Regulation

FMCSA extends CDL, medical permit renewal waiver

A federal waiver scheduled to expire on June 30 giving drivers with expired commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and medical cards extra time to get them renewed has been extended through September 30.

The initial waiver issued on March 24 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which also applies to commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders, was granted in response to closures of state motor vehicle departments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Several States continue to experience greater than normal employee absences or have closed offices of their State Driver Licensing Agencies [SDLAs] in response to the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” FMCSA stated in the waiver renewal, which was issued on June 15.

“Under the Federal guidance for reopening America these conditions are likely to continue at this time. As a result, many CDL and CLP holders are unable to renew their CDLs and CLPs and are unable to provide medical certificates to their [SDLAs].

The waiver and its extension are also meant to address the limited resources available at medical facilities, where capacity is under increasing pressure to respond to the coronavirus crisis. “Many medical providers nationwide have canceled regularly scheduled appointments to dedicate resources to the COVID-19 response,” FMCSA noted.

The extension, which goes into effect on July 1, provides the same relief from specified motor carrier regulations for CDL holders and CLP holders, as well as non-CDL drivers, provided by the March 24 waiver.

As with the initial waiver, the extension does not allow CDL or CLP holders to extend their licenses if their license credentials or medical cards expired before March 1, 2020. It also doesn’t alter any of the knowledge and skills testing requirements for obtaining either a CDL, a CLP, or a necessary endorsement, and does not apply to a CDL or CLP holder if the driver’s privileges have been suspended or withdrawn for traffic offenses.

The FMCSA also reissued a separate Notice of Enforcement Policy to complement the extension – as it did with the original waiver – affirming that it will not take enforcement against drivers for operating a commercial vehicle if the driver held a valid CDL on February 29, 2020, or against carriers employing those drivers.

The Scopelitis Law Firm cautioned at the time the original waiver was issued that carriers “should beware that the Enforcement Notice does not necessarily preclude individual states from enforcing the prohibitions on operating a commercial motor vehicle without a valid, non-expired license, so attention should be paid to individual states, some of which have issued their own extensions of license expirations.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.
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