FMCSA ISSUES WAIVER EXTENDING VALIDITY OF EXPIRING CDL LICENSES AND DRIVER MEDICAL CERTIFICATES

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it is extending the waiver permitting states to delay renewal of commercial driver licenses (CDL) and commercial learner permits (CLP) until May 31, 2021. The current waiver is set to expire on February 28, 2021. FMCSA said the waiver is needed because many states continue to experience greater than normal employee absences, reduced hours of operation, or closed offices of their State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. As a result, drivers are unable to renew expiring CDL licenses or continue to operate under a CDL learners permit.

The FMCSA waiver permits but does not require SDLAs to extend the validity of CDL licenses and learners permits expiring after March 31, 2020 until May 31, 2021. Some states may implement the FMCSA waiver extending the validity of expiring CDLs and CLPs, while others may not due to return to normal operating conditions. The FMCSA is leaving it up to each state to decide whether COVID-19 restrictions justify a waiver extension.

However, the FMCSA is requiring states to waive until May 31, 2021, the requirement that CDL and CLP holders undergo a medical examination and obtain a medical certification to operate a commercial motor vehicle certification. For the waiver to apply, drivers must have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance or exemption that expired on or after December 1, 2020. During the same period, states are prohibited from downgrading the “certified” status off these drivers as well. The FMCSA waiver also applies to drivers holding CDL licenses issued by Mexico and Canada and operating within the United States.

The waiver covers States, CDL holders, CLP holders for the period beginning at 12:00 a.m. on March 1, 2021, through 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2021. The waiver does not apply to any CDL or CLP holders with CDL licenses or permits that expired before March 1, 2020, medical certificates issued for less than 90 days or those diagnosed with a disqualifying disease since their last medical examination. Also, drivers must continue to carry their CDL medical certificates, variances and licenses. The FMCSA waiver does not apply to HAZMAT endorsements. The waiver can be downloaded here: FMCSA CDL Waiver.