Important Updates from the U.S. Department of Transportation

March 24th, 2020 - 2:30 pm

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released some important updates, below. This includes announcements by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and other agencies.

Enforcement Notice on Expiring CDLs
The FMCSA has issued a Notice of Enforcement Policy, effective from March 24, 2020 to June 30, 2020. It provides needed relief from specified Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) holders, CDL holders, and non-CDL drivers and motor carriers using those drivers. The Notice applies to all CLP holders, CDL holders, and non-CDL drivers whose license was issued for less than the maximum period established by 49 CFR 383.25 and 383.73 and was valid on February 29, 2020 and expired on or after March 1, 2020. Click here for details.

Waiver for States, CDL & CLP Holders, and Interstate Commercial Vehicle Drivers
The FMCSA has granted a waiver effective until June 30, 2020 that provides important relief resulting from situations where many CDL and CLP holders are unable to renew their CDLs and CLPs and are unable to provide medical certificates to their State Driver Licensing Agencies. In addition, many medical providers nationwide have canceled regularly scheduled appointments to dedicate resources to the COVID-19 response. As a result, drivers are unable to obtain appointments for physical examinations with medical examiners. Medical certificates that would have expired on or after March 1, 2020 are now valid after expiration through the extent of this COVID-19 emergency. If a driver had a valid medical certificate or variance as of March 1, 2020 that was issued for a period of 90 days or longer, the State may not downgrade the driver's CDL or CLP when the medical certificate expires. Click here for details.

PHMSA Notice of Enforcement Policy Related to HAZMAT Training
PHMSA has announced it will take no enforcement actions against HAZMAT employers and/or employees that are unable to provide the required "recurrent training" during the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy was coordinated across the Department and applies to FMCSA and all modes. It does not apply to initial training, or the need to have a new HM employee work under the supervision of a trained HM employee until they can get their initial training. Click here for details.

Reminder on Federal HOS Waiver
Just a reminder that the FMCSA expanded its national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief for commercial vehicle drivers transporting fuel, but only if providing relief in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The FMCSA emergency declaration is in effect until the termination of the emergency (as defined in 49 CFR § 390.5) or until 11:59 P.M. (EDT) on April 12, 2020, whichever occurs sooner. A centralized e-mail address has been created for questions related to the emergency declaration: FMCSADeclaration@dot.gov. The FMCSA also provides a state-by-state list of waivers, available here.

Drug Testing Guidance
The Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) has posted guidance relating to the Drug and Alcohol Program during this time of National Emergency. Additional information specific to FMCSA operations is currently under discussion, but this initial guidance provides important information for employers and employees subject to drug and alcohol testing. Click here for details.

U.S. DOT Coronavirus Resource Page
The DOT has also launched a Coronavirus Resource Page with periodic updates, available here. This link and other important resources have been added to the NEFI Coronavirus Resource page at www.nefi.com/coronavirus.

NEFI members that require additional assistance in these matters may contact Regulatory Counsel Rick Schweitzer at rpschweitzer@rpslegal.com.