Many states are issuing stay at home and shut down orders due to COVID-19, forcing businesses to close or at the very least, have limiting operation capabilities. One result of the stay at home and shut down orders is the ability for certified Department of Transportation (DOT) medical providers and state driver’s license agencies (DMVs) to provide necessary services for commercial driver license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders. This has greatly impacted the professional truck driving industry and our driver’s who are still working and operating business as usual.
Many offices have cancelled regularly scheduled appointments to dedicate resources to the COVID-19 response or abide by social distancing rules, which creates issues for drivers needing to obtain appointments for their physicals or renewing licenses or permits. While drivers have had to adjust to many new rules and regulations, the FMCSA issued a waiver from certain regulations for interstate and intrastate commercial driver license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to any other interstate driver operating commercial motor vehicles. The waiver is in response to COVID-19 virus outbreaks and their effects on people and any immediate risk they may present to public health, safety, and welfare. The waiver will be granted by the FMSCA until June 30, 2020.
What Does This Mean for Drivers?
Although the President declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national state of emergency, the public always will have a need for transportation of essential supplies and equipment, in return, making drivers essential heroes in the COVID-19 fight. The FMSCA waiver provides the needed relief from specified FMCSRs for CDL holders, CLP holders and non-CDL drivers. The organization has determined this waiver is likely to help achieve a level of safety that is equivalent or greater than, the level of safety without a waiver until June 30th.
Per the FMSCA, below is a list of what the waiver grants:
- Waives the maximum period of CDL validity by waiving CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020. The same applies to learner’s permits, but without requiring CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
- Waives the requirement that permit holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test
- Waives the requirement that CDL and permit holders have a DOT physical done and attached to their license, provided they have proof of a valid medical certificate that was issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
- Likewise, waives in order to maintain the physical status of “certified”, CDL or CLP holders provide the licensing agency with an original copy of a subsequently used medical certificate, provided they have proof of a valid medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
- Waives the state licensing agency 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 the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
- Waives the state 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 March 1, 2020.
The FMSCA understands there are still concerns about COVID-19 and obtaining DOT physicals and any licenses or permits, but with these ample precautions in place, they feel this waiver is likely to achieve a level of safety among drivers.
Slowly, medical offices and DMVs are starting to reopen with new guidelines, like limited capacity or by appointment. Be sure to check with your local DMV or DOT certified medical office for their updated policies and remember the FMCSA waiver is in effect through June 30, 2020. Once you can renew any licenses, permits, or attach DOT physicals, be sure to submit a copy to the Safety Department as soon as you get it completed.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your Safety Department. We also encourage you to read more details about the official waiver here.