CDL waiver extended; emergency HOS exemptions narrowed

September 1, 2021

Mark Schremmer


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will continue to allow states to extend the validity of commercial driver’s licenses through November.

In addition, the agency announced on Tuesday, Aug. 31, that its emergency declaration providing regulatory relief for truckers providing direct assistance in COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts was extended through November.

Changes to emergency HOS exemption

Although the FMCSA’s emergency declaration set for Sept. 1 through Nov. 30 will continue to provide hours-of-service relief for truckers hauling qualified items for pandemic relief efforts, there are some key differences from the previous exemptions.

The most recent version of the emergency declaration will provide exemption only from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations’ 395.3, which sets a maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles. Previous declarations covered parts 390-399 of the FMCSR with some exceptions.

Of note, the exemption no longer covers 395.8(a), 395.8(k) and 395.11 related to driver’s records of duty status, supporting documents, and retention of driver’s records of duty status and supporting documents, as well as subpart B of part 395 related to electronic logging devices.

“Drivers will record their duty status for each 24-hour period when using the method normally used by the driver when not operating under this extension and amendment,” the FMCSA wrote in the notice. “Motor carriers and drivers subject to the ELD requirements must continue to use ELDs, maintain ELD records and data for six months from the date the electronic record is generated, and produce, transfer and make ELD records and data accessible to law enforcement and safety officials upon request.”

In addition, motor carriers that voluntarily operate under the terms of the emergency declaration are to report within five days after the end of each month their reliance on the declaration.

To report, motor carriers can access their portal account, log in with the company’s FMCSA portal credentials, and go to “Emergency Declaration Reporting” under the “Available FMCSA Systems” section on the page.

“FMCSA’s latest extension of the COVID emergency declaration really marks the potential transition from the provisions we’ve seen from the outset of the pandemic,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “For one, the latest version will only apply to 395.3 maximum driving time for property carrying vehicles. Earlier declarations were pretty much across the board on regulations 390 through 399. So this one is really much more narrowed down in scope. And I think we’re also seeing an attempt from FMCSA to see how many motor carriers are using the HOS emergency provisions right now.”

FMCSA’s latest version of the declaration added fuel and supplies to assist individuals affected by the pandemic to the list of qualifying items.

The extension is limited to transportation of these items:

  • Livestock and livestock feed.
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
  • Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol.
  • Supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including building materials for individuals displaced as a result of the emergency.

FMCSA said direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

CDL waiver

The FMCSA is extending waivers on CDLs, commercial learner’s permits and medical certificates.

“FMCSA permits, but does not require, the states to extend the validity of commercial driver’s licenses and commercial learner’s permits and to waive the 14-day waiting period,” the agency wrote.

States are allowed to extend the validity of CDLs and permits due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020.

The extension also waives through Nov. 30 the requirement that drivers have a medical examination and certification provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification issued for a period of 90 days or longer and expired on or after June 1. LL