Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

SSL

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

The latest information on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is available on coronavirus.gov.

United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Three-Month Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency – For States and CLP Holders Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles

Three-Month Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency –
For States and CLP Holders Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles

March 28, 2020

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Grant of waiver.

SUMMARY: FMCSA grants a three-month waiver from certain regulations applicable to commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), as defined in 49 CFR 383.5, in interstate and intrastate commerce. The Agency has initiated this action in response to the President’s declaration of a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

DATES: This waiver is effective March 28, 2020 and expires either on June 30, 2020, or the revocation of the President’s declaration of national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), whichever is sooner.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Ms. Nikki McDavid, Chief of the Commercial Driver’s License Division, Office of Safety Programs, 202-366-0831, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Legal Basis

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (Pub. L. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107, June 9, 1998) provides the Secretary of Transportation (the Secretary) authority to grant waivers from any of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations issued under Chapter 313 of Title 49 of the United States Code or 49 U.S.C. § 31136, to a person(s) seeking regulatory relief (49 U.S.C. §§ 31136(e), 31315(a)). The Secretary must make a determination that the waiver is in the public interest and that it is likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the waiver. Individual waivers may be granted only for a specific non-emergency and unique event for a period up to three months. TEA-21 authorizes the Secretary to grant waivers without requesting public comment, and without providing public notice.

The Administrator of FMCSA has been delegated authority under 49 CFR 1.87(e) and (f) to carry out the functions vested in the Secretary by 49 U.S.C. chapter 313, relating to commercial motor vehicle operators, and 49 U.S.C. chapter 311, subchapter I and III, relating to commercial motor vehicle programs and safety regulations.

Background

The President has declared a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This waiver is in response to COVID-19 outbreaks and their effects on people and the immediate risk they present to public health, safety, and welfare. Several States are experiencing greater than normal employee absences or have closed offices of their State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLA) in response to the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a result, some SDLAs may be unable to process and issue a commercial driver’s license (CDL) credential to eligible CLP holders who have passed the driving skills test. Given the national emergency, there is a public need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment, and persons, which requires an adequate and sustained supply of drivers eligible to operate a CMV. This waiver provides needed relief from specified FMCSRs for States and CLP holders.

FMCSA’s Determination and Regulatory Provisions Waived

Consistent with the statutory requirements for waivers, FMCSA has determined that it is in the public interest to issue a waiver, until June 30, 2020, limited in scope and circumstances, that is likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the waiver.

To respond to this unique event, prevent a possible shortage of CMV drivers from becoming a transportation emergency, and to continue the ability of intrastate and interstate CDL and CLP holders to transport goods in response to the COVID-19 emergency, this waiver:

  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) that a CLP holder be accompanied by a CDL holder, with the proper CDL class and endorsements, seated in the front seat of the vehicle while the CLP holder operates a CMV on public roads or highways. Under the terms, conditions, and restrictions of this waiver, a CLP holder may operate a CMV on public roads or highways without an accompanying CDL holder present in the front seat of the vehicle, provided that the CDL holder is elsewhere in the cab, the CLP holder is in possession of evidence from the testing jurisdiction, including an authorized third-party tester, that the CLP holder has passed the CDL driving skills test, and, unless the FMCSA waiver issued on March 24, 2020 applies, that the CLP holder has a valid non-CDL driver’s license, CLP, and medical certificate.

States, SDLAs, and CLP holders are covered under this waiver without further action.

FMCSA will not issue a finding or a determination of substantial noncompliance under 49 CFR part 384 against States for action or inaction consistent with this waiver.

FMCSA will not take an enforcement against action CLP holders for operation, or against motor carriers for allowing the operation, of a CMV without a CDL holder present in the front seat of the vehicle if the CLP driver is in possession of evidence from the testing jurisdiction, including an authorized third-party tester, that the CLP holder has passed the CDL driving skills test, and, unless the FMCSA waiver issued on March 24, 2020 applies, has a valid non-CDL driver’s license, CLP and medical certificate.

Public Interest

FMCSA finds that the granting of this waiver is in the public interest, given CDL and CLP holders’ critical role in delivering necessary property and passengers, including, but not limited to, shipments of essential supplies and persons to respond to the COVID-19 outbreaks. This waiver is in the public interest because it would allow drivers covered under this waiver to deliver essential supplies and persons across State lines to address the national emergency. This waiver will also reduce the administrative burden on CLP holders during this national emergency.

Safety Equivalency

Due to the limited scope of this waiver and the ample precautions that remain in place, FMCSA has determined that the waiver is likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to the level of safety that would be obtained absent the waiver. The waiver of a particular regulation should not be looked at in isolation but rather as part of the whole of all regulations governing the safety of drivers. Waiver determinations are made holistically, taking all relevant factors into account. See International Bhd of Teamsters v. DOT, 724 F.3d 206 (D.C. Cir. 2013). It is important to note that this waiver does not alter any of the knowledge and skills testing requirements for a CDL, a CLP, or a necessary endorsement.

FMCSA has determined that waiving the requirements under 49 CFR 383.25(a) will not negatively impact safety. Section 383.25(a) sets forth the conditions a CLP holder must meet to operate a CMV for the purpose of behind-the-wheel training on public roads or highways prior to taking the skills test, including the requirement that the driver be accompanied by a CDL holder seated in the front passenger seat. Under this waiver, a CLP holder who has passed the driving skills test may operate a CMV on public roads or highways without a CDL holder present in the front passenger seat. CLP holders who have passed the driving skills test are qualified and eligible to obtain a CDL, and the only thing necessary to obtain the CDL credential is to apply at the SDLA in their State of domicile. Absent the SDLA closures and related processing delays resulting from the COVID-19 national emergency, these CLP holders would be able to obtain their CDL credential from the SDLA more quickly and begin driving a CMV on public roads and highways without any on-board supervision. While the waiver permits the CLP holder to operate a CMV without a CDL holder in the front passenger seat, under the terms, conditions, and restrictions below, a CDL holder is required to be present elsewhere in the vehicle.

FMCSA’s waiver is consistent with the Agency’s 2015 decision granting CR England an exemption from 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) and FMCSA’s 2017 decision renewing the exemption (80 FR 33329 (Jun. 11, 2015), 82 FR 48889 (Oct. 20, 2017)). In this regard, FMCSA granted an application filed by CR England, under 49 USC 31315, seeking an exemption from § 383.25(a)(1) to allow CLP holders who have successfully passed a CDL skills test to drive a truck without a CDL holder being present in the front seat. FMCSA explained that there is no evidence that having a CDL holder present in the front seat to accompany a CLP holder who has passed the skills test improves safety, and found that the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to complying with the regulation. Moreover, the CR England exemption, which expires in 2022, has not adversely affected safety. 

FMCSA has also determined that waiving the requirement under 49 CFR 383.79(a) will not negatively impact safety. Section 383.79(a) permits, but does not require, an SDLA to allow an out of state CDL applicant to take the CDL driving skills (i.e., on-the-road) test if the applicant also received training in that State. Under this waiver, SDLAs would be permitted to allow an out of state CDL applicant to take the CDL driving skills test regardless of where the applicant received training. The Federal regulations in 49 CFR part 383, subparts F, G, H, and J, set forth uniform national knowledge and skills testing procedures and antifraud measures for the States. FMCSA’s regulatory framework provides for uniform national testing standards irrespective of where a CDL applicant receives training. See 49 CFR 383.131, 383.133. The waiver requires the SDLA to transmit the test results electronically directly from the testing State to the licensing State in an efficient and secure manner in accordance with 49 CFR 383.79(a)(1). FMCSA notes that the requirement in § 383.79(b) that the State of domicile must accept the results of a driving skills test administered to the applicant by any other State, in accordance with subparts F, G, and H of this part, in fulfillment of the CDL applicant's testing requirements under part 383 would continue to apply.

FMCSA believes that the measures listed below under Terms, Conditions, and Restrictions of the Waiver, taken collectively, provide the assurance needed to meet the legal standard that granting the waiver is likely to achieve an “equivalent level of safety.” Therefore, FMCSA has determined that a waiver from the regulations noted above during the period of the waiver is likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the waiver.

Unique Circumstances

COVID-19 outbreaks have led to widespread closures of State and Federal government offices, reduction of government services, and disruption of transportation systems, including possible driver shortages and related interruption of supply chains, which are heavily dependent on continued CMV operations. FMCSA finds that the circumstances surrounding this waiver are unique because such government operations are not providing their usual level of service.

For the reasons above, FMCSA grants a three-month waiver as provided above, subject to the terms, conditions, and restrictions below.

Terms, Conditions, and Restrictions of the Waiver

This waiver covers States and CLP holders for the period beginning at 12:01 a.m. (ET) on March 28, 2020, and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on June 30, 2020, or the revocation of the President’s declaration of national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), whichever is sooner.

  1. A CLP holder operating a CMV in accordance with this waiver must maintain in the vehicle documentary evidence from an SDLA or an authorized third-party tester showing that the driver passed the CDL driving skills test and must carry his/her non-CDL driver’s license and CLP while operating the CMV.

  1. A CLP holder operating a CMV in accordance with this waiver must be accompanied by a CDL holder, with the proper CDL class and endorsements, present in the vehicle, although not necessarily seated in the front passenger seat.

  1. This waiver does not apply to a CLP holder if the driver’s privileges have been suspended or withdrawn for offenses requiring disqualification under 49 CFR 383.51.

  1. This waiver does not apply to a CLP holder subject to a driver imminent hazard order under 49 CFR 383.52 or disqualified under 49 CFR 391.11.

  1. This waiver does not apply to a CLP holder who does not have a valid medical examiner’s certificate, unless FMCSA’s waiver issued on March 24, 2020 applies and the driver is in compliance with the terms, conditions, and restrictions of the March 24 waiver.

  1. This waiver does not apply to a CLP holder who is prohibited from performing safety sensitive functions under 49 CFR 382.501.

  1. This waiver does not apply to CMV operations requiring the following endorsements: T (double/triple trailers); P (passenger), N (tank vehicle), H (hazardous materials), X (combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials), and S (school bus).

  1. An SDLA that elects to administer a CDL driving skills test to an out of state applicant under this waiver must transmit the test results electronically directly from the testing State to the licensing State in an efficient and secure manner in accordance with 49 CFR 383.79(a)(1).

  1. Accident Notification. Each motor carrier must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of an accident (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5), involving any CLP holder operating under the terms of this waiver. See 49 CFR 390.15(b) (requiring maintenance of accident registry.) Notification shall be by email to MCPSD@DOT.GOV. The notification must include the following information:

  1. Date of the accident;
  2. City or town, and State in which the accident occurred, or closest to the accident scene;
  3. Driver's name and license number;
  4. Vehicle number and State license number;
  5. Number of individuals suffering physical injury;
  6. Number of fatalities;
  7. The police-reported cause of the accident (if available at time of the report); and
  8. Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws, or motor carrier safety regulations.

  1. FMCSA reserves the right to revoke this waiver for drivers’ involvement in accidents, motor carriers’ failure to report accidents, and drivers’ failure to comply with the restrictions of this waiver.

Issued: March 28, 2020                                       ______________________________

Jim Mullen

Acting Administrator

Last updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020