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COVID-19 Driver Qualification FAQ's

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Rich Malchow - Industry Business Advisor, J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

March 16 , 2020

There are many questions regarding transportation during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) national emergency, especially when it comes to driver qualification. Well-intentioned and informed fleet professionals will encounter significant compliance challenges during this time. Rick Malchow, our experienced subject matter expert, provides clarity on two frequently asked questions about driver qualification in light of recent FMCSA activity.

Can a driver with a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) drive during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Yes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) waiver covers §383.235(a)(1). It ensures that during the COVID-19 outbreak, law enforcement will not take action against CLP holders for operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) without a Commercial Driver License (CDL) holder present in the front seat of the vehicle if the driver:

  • Is in possession of authorization from a state driver licensing agency or third-party tester that the CLP holder has passed the CDL driving skills test,
  • Has a valid non-CDL driver’s license,
  • Has a CLP,
  • Has a medical certificate unless covered under a waiver that was issued on March 24, 2020, and
  • The CDL holder is in the cab of the vehicle.

This provision does not allow a CLP holder to operate a CMV solo. An individual with a valid CDL must accompany the CLP holder.

The FMCSA granted a three-month waiver from certain CLP regulations for drivers seeking their CDL. All interstate and intrastate carriers who are operating CMVs and employing drivers who possess a CLP may be able to use the waiver if the above criteria are met. The waiver helps get drivers working during the emergency conditions even though they may not yet have their CDL.

What should I do if my driver’s medical card expired and he/she can’t get it renewed because of the coronavirus?

Drivers who held a valid medical card as of February 29, 2020, that expired on or after March 1, 2020, may continue to drive with the certificate through June 30. Under the medical-card waiver, drivers must have an original or a copy 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. This waiver is not limited to those involved in emergency relief. It applies to both CDL and non-CDL CMV driver med card qualifications since Part 391 applies to both vehicle types.


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