FMCSA issues waiver for expiring licenses and medical cards

Drivers with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and medical cards that have expired or will expire after March 1 will be granted relief from getting them renewed through June 30.

The waiver issued Tuesday by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which also applies to commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and non-CDL commercial drivers, is in response to driver licensing agencies that have been forced to shut down by state authorities as well as social distancing measures, leading agency employees to stay home from work.

The waiver is also meant to address the limited resources available at medical facilities, where capacity is under increasing pressure in responding to the coronavirus crisis.

“Many medical providers nationwide have canceled regularly scheduled appointments to dedicate resources to the COVID-19 response,” FMCSA stated in the waiver. “As a result, drivers are unable to obtain appointments for physical examinations with medical examiners to comply” with FMCSA regulations.

“While America’s truck drivers are out delivering the essential medical supplies, food and other goods we need to combat this virus, FMCSA has taken an important step to let drivers and carriers know how to address things like expired commercial driver’s licenses or medical cards,” said ATA Vice President of Safety Dan Horvath in reference to the waiver. “With state governments moving to remote work and shuttering offices, drivers will need assistance to continue moving critical goods safely and today’s guidance is a step toward ensuring those trucks keep moving.”

To complement the waiver, FMCSA issued a separate Notice of Enforcement Policy stating that, through June 30, the agency will not take enforcement against drivers or their carriers if the driver held a valid CDL on Feb. 29, 2020. For CLP holders, FMCSA noted that while most states have adopted the full one-year maximum period of validity, it is still including a comparable provision on nonenforcement of recently expired CLPs.

The Scopelitis law firm emphasized in an alert that the FMCSA’s waiver is not a blanket exception to license or medical card requirements, “meaning that commercial drivers must still hold a license of the type appropriate for the vehicles they are operating and must also have been deemed physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle by a certified medical examiner.”