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Law Alert: FMCSA Issues Temporary Waiver for Drivers with Expiring CDLs, CLPs, Operator’s Licenses, and Medical Cards

by Jerad T. Childress, Thomas  E. O'Donnell, Prasad Sharma, Brandon K. Wiseman, Timothy W. Wiseman

March 24, 2020

Law Alert: FMCSA Issues Temporary Waiver for Drivers with Expiring CDLs, CLPs, Operator’s Licenses, and Medical Cards

This morning, FMCSA issued a limited waiver for commercial drivers whose CDLs, CLPs, operator’s licenses, and/or medical cards have expired or are set to expire after March 1, 2020. The waiver, which is effective immediately and valid through June 30, 2020, comes in response to state DMV and medical clinic closures that have made it difficult for commercial drivers to renew expiring licenses and medical cards in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The waiver is not a blanket exception to the CDL, operator’s 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. Rather, the waiver merely extends to June 30, 2020, the expiration dates on licenses and medical cards that have expired or are set to expire between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

More specifically, the waiver:

  • Extends until June 30, 2020 the maximum period of CDL validity by waiving 49 CFR 383.73(b)(9) and 383.73(d)(6) for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Extends until June 30, 2020 the maximum period of CLP validity by waiving 49 CFR 383.73(a)(2)(iii) and 383.25(c) for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.25(e) that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 391.45 that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification that was issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.71(h)(3) that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the State Driver Licensing Agency with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(2) that the State Driver 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 requirements under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(4) that the State Driver 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 waiver does not apply to licenses that expired prior to March 1, 2020; to drivers whose driving privileges have been suspended or revoked; drivers who have never obtained a medical certification in the first place; drivers who, since their last medical examination, have developed a medical condition that would disqualify them from operating a commercial motor vehicle; or drivers whose expiring medical card was valid for a period of fewer than 90 days.

Contemporaneously with the waiver, the FMCSA also issued an Enforcement Notice, explaining that it will forego enforcement action against drivers and motor carriers that fall under the terms of the waiver. 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. 

If you have questions about the waiver, contact Scopelitis Attorneys Tim Wiseman, Brandon Wiseman, Prasad Sharma, Tom O’Donnell, or Jerad Childress.

To stay abreast of the latest news regarding COVID-19 and the transportation industry, please visit the Scopelitis COVID-19 Task Force resource page


News from Scopelitis is intended as a report to our clients and friends on developments affecting the transportation industry. The published material does not constitute an exhaustive legal study and should not be regarded or relied upon as individual legal advice or opinion.

© Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, P.C. 2020. All rights reserved. 

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