Don’t get too excited about the recent announcement that FMCSA was extending a deadline related to medical certification.
Drivers still only have until Jan. 30 to provide proof of medical certification to the state drivers licensing agency or face having their license downgraded.
The changes to the regulation that were supposed to go into effect on Jan. 30 were that in addition to all current CDL holders providing proof to the states, the drivers would not be required to keep their medical cards with them on the road. That is the only thing that changed.
The extension announced by FMCSA on Jan. 14 states that drivers must continue to keep their medical certificates on the road with them. Motor carriers will also have to retain a copy of the medical certificate in the driver qualification files until Jan. 30, 2015.
No other deadlines were extended.
The intent behind the regulation is that once drivers provide proof to their state drivers licensing agency, that information will be entered into the Commercial Drivers License Information System database – called CDLIS. The driver’s medical certification and CDL will be basically tied together in the database. That will allow roadside law enforcement to check for medical certification electronically instead of depending on the certificates.
The regulation went into effect in 2008 with an initial deadline for states to be up and running and entering information by Jan. 30, 2012. The final rule also set the Jan. 30, 2014, deadline for all existing CDL holders to provide proof to their home states.
The first extension of the requirement to continue carrying medical certificates on the road and filed in driver qualification files happened in 2012.
Fast forward to 2014. There are states still not getting the information entered into the CLDIS database. So, FMCSA “reluctantly” is extending the requirement that drivers have their medical certificates with them, according to the notice published in the Federal Register.
That leaves little time for CDL holders who have not presented proof to their home state, and could be setting themselves up for a headache.
Each state’s officials were allowed to determine how that state would accept proof of certification. Some states allow you to visit the licensing offices, mail, fax or email. Other states restrict that to fax only – like Tennessee.
While there is a requirement in the regulation that states are to provide a stamped receipt stating the medical certification was received, that’s not happening in all states – setting up compliant drivers for problems.
There have been cases around the country where drivers who had provided proof of certification to their home state still had their CDLs downgraded. It’s not been an easy road to get those licenses reinstated in all cases.
Those instances have prompted OOIDA to urge drivers to comply with the regulation as soon as possible and do whatever they can to ensure that they have something to back them up in case their license is downgraded because of a glitch or delay on the state’s end.
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