Q- What waivers or exemptions from driver requirements have been issued associated with school and transportation department shutdowns and their attendant difficulties, such as CDL licenses expiring, drug and alcohol random testing disruptions, medical examiner certificates (MECs) expiring, and the like?
A1- Drug and Alcohol Testing: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an emergency declaration related to some FMCSA regulations in 49 CFR Part 390-399. In this declaration, they specifically state this is not an exemption from the controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements, 49 CFR Part 382. All testing, including random testing, should continue as required. However, if a school is shut down and no school bus driver is performing safety sensitive functions, testing cannot be performed. The employer will need to note why the randomly selected drivers were not tested during the selection period. Employers may wish to document the date the random test was scheduled and the dates the donor was not performing safety-sensitive functions. The employer will still be required to meet the random testing percentages for 2020 of 50 percent for drugs and 10 percent for alcohol. Once schools reopen and throughout the remainder of the calendar year, employers will need to increase their random testing to ensure compliance. Employers should work closely with their testing providers to monitor compliance and stay apprised of any waivers or delays that may be approved within the federal regulations.
A2- Commercial Driver Licensing and Medical Examiner Certificates: On March 24, 2020, the FMCSA issued a “Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency – For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles,” available here. The waiver is multi-part and provides until June 30, 2020, a waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). It includes the following provisions:
- 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.
- In accordance with 49 CFR 383.23(a)(1) and 391.41(a)(1)(i), FMCSA continues to recognize the validity of commercial driver’s licenses issued by Canadian Provinces and Territories and Licencias Federales de Conductor issued by the United Mexican States, in accordance with 49 CFR part 383, when such jurisdictions issue a similar notice or declaration extending the validity date of the medical examination and certification and/or validity of the corresponding commercial driver’s license due to interruption to government service resulting from COVID-19.
States, CDL holders, CLP holders, and interstate non-CDL CMV drivers are covered under this waiver without further action.
FMCSA will not issue a finding of noncompliance under 49 CFR part 384 against States for action or inaction consistent with this waiver.
Regarding Medical Examiner Certificates, although the federal ME regulations do not extend to most public school bus drivers under federal authority, many states have look-alike or more stringent regulations for medical examinations and qualifications of school bus drivers. NASDPTS recommends that you contact your state director of student transportation or other regulating state agency, as individual states may have instituted similar relief measures during the current crisis. Since this situation is evolving so rapidly, we recommend checking back frequently at the FMCSA Emergency Declarations page located here.
Source: National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) Information Report: Coronavirus and Student Transportation, March 24, 2020.
If needed, here are the actual links referenced above:
- FMCSA emergency declaration: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency-declarations#FMCSA
- NASDPTS contact for state director of student transportation: http://www.nasdpts.org/Directors/index.html
- FMCSA CDL Waiver-3.24.20 (Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency – For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles): https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/fmcsa-cdl-waiver-32420