FMCSA extends waivers for COVID-19 national emergency

Washington, DC – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted waivers permitting (but not requiring) states to extend the validity of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and commercial learner’s permits (CLPs) effective March 1, 2021.

States will have the option of extending the validity of the CDLs and commercial learner’s permits and waiving the 14-day waiting period, according to an FMCSA update published on Feb. 16.

Ken Presley

Additional waivers from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate CDL and CLP holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The FMCSA’s current waiver is set to expire on Feb. 28.

However, FMCSA’s updated waiver for medical certifications is clear cut. The medical certification waivers will be extended until May 31 for any medical cards that expired on or after Dec. 1.

FMCSA has been issuing similar waivers and extensions for the past year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CDLs and learner’s permits due for renewal on or after this past March can be extended beyond the respective eight-year and one-year maximums if states chose this option.

“Under this waiver, states have the discretion to determine whether, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, there is a continued need to extend the validity of CDLs that expired on or after March 1, 2020,” FMCSA wrote.

The federal agency indicated the extension is intended to support states that have experienced greater than normal employee absences, reduced hours of operation, or closed offices of their State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) in response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 safety protocols. Due to the limited scope, the short duration and other precautions in place, FMCSA doesn’t anticipate the waiver will negatively affect safety.

“The waiver does not alter any of the knowledge and skills testing requirements for obtaining either a CDL, a CLP, or necessary endorsement,” FMCSA wrote. “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 It does not apply to a CDL or CLP holder if the driver’s privileges have been suspended or withdrawn for traffic offenses or if the driver is otherwise disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.”

The action is similar to a series of waivers issued over the past twelve months in response to the COVID-19 National Emergency.

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