April 06, 2020

COVID-19: FMCSA Provides Relief for Expired CDL’s and Medical Cards with New Accident Reporting Requirements

  As we have previously reported, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a temporary waiver for some commercial vehicle drivers to address disruptions in licensing and other requirements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

This alert concerns the FMCSA’s decision to exercise its discretion not to take enforcement action in certain cases when a commercial learners’ permit (CPL), commercial driver’s license (CDL) or Medical Certificate has expired. This is not a blanket exemption, and drivers and carriers should review the details of the waiver to ensure their operations qualify.

As recently reported by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the waiver provides flexibility to CDL and CLP holders, and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles, by extending the expiration dates for federally mandated licenses and medical certifications. 

The waiver provides flexibility only to CLP or CDL holders and other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles who had a valid license and medical certification on February 29, 2020 that expired on or after March 1, 2020.  The waiver also eliminates the fourteen day waiting period between the issuance of a CLP and taking the CDL skills test.   Note that the waiver does not apply to Hazardous Material Endorsements (HMEs) that expire on or after March 1.  Unless the FMCSA extends it further, the waiver expires on June 30, 2020.

It is important to note that motor carriers have a special obligation to report an accident if one of their drivers operating under the waiver is involved in an accident.  Specifically, motor carriers must notify FMCSA within five business days of an accident (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5)1 involving any CDL holder, CLP holder or non-CDL driver operating under the terms of this waiver. The notification must be sent by email to MCPSD@DOT.gov with the following information:

    i.      Date of the accident;

    ii.     City or town, and State in which the accident occurred, or closest to the accident scene;

    iii.    Driver's name and license number;

    iv.    Vehicle number and State license number;

    v.     Number of individuals suffering physical injury;

    vi.    Number of fatalities;

    vii.   The police-reported cause of the accident (if available at time of the report); and

    viii.  Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws, or motor carrier safety regulations.

The waiver does not apply to all medical examiner’s certificates that expired on or after March 1, 2020, and specifically does not apply to medical examiner’s certificates originally issued for less than 90 days.  Additionally, drivers who have been diagnosed with a new medical condition that would disqualify the driver from operating in interstate commerce, or have developed a new condition that requires an exemption or Skill Performance Evaluation from FMCSA, are not covered under this waiver..2

If you have any questions about these developments, or the transportation industry in general, please contact our Firm’s Transportation Practice Group leaders, Matt Mitchell, mmitchell@c-wlaw.com, or Bill Pentecost, wpentecost@c-wlaw.com




1  The FMCSR definition of “accident” is:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this definition, an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a highway in interstate or intrastate commerce which results in:

(i)           A fatality;

(ii)           Bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives  medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or

(iii)         One or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicle(s) to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

(2) The term accident does not include:

(i)           An occurrence involving only boarding and alighting from a stationary motor vehicle; or

(ii)          An occurrence involving only the loading or unloading of cargo.

2  For more information on the waiver, please see the ATA’s COVID-19 Update Hub at https://www.trucking.org/COVID19.