New Commercial Driver’s License Requirements Are Set to Take Effect
Act 49 signed into law October 22, 2015, with an effective date of December 21, 2015, makes numerous changes to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code regarding Commercial Driver’s Licenses, affecting both license and permit holders. The majority of these changes are in response to changes to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. Some of the significant changes include:
- The annual physical and vision examination requirements for school bus drivers have changed. The time period for having the examinations completed has been extended from every 12 months to every 13 months.
- Codes used to describe CDL classifications, endorsements and restrictions will change beginning December 21, 2015.
- If a driver applicant wants to remove any of the restrictions on their current license, the applicant may not have to retake the complete skills tests. The state may administer a modified test which will include a knowledge test and/or skills test depending on the restriction to be removed.
- Beginning December 21, 2015, all new CDL applicants and current holders required to renew or make any changes or upgrades to their CDL will need to do so in person. The FMCSA final rules require license holders to prove citizenship or legal presence in the form of a birth certificate, passport, naturalization documents or current immigration documents in-person. The requirement to prove citizenship or legal presence for permanent residents and citizens will only need to be done once as a notation will be made on the customer’s record confirming the verification was made and the date it was made. Once the date of proof has been provided to PennDOT, commercial applications may be submitted through mail service channel.
- Also beginning on December 21, 2015, residency documents will be required initially, at renewal and anytime an address change occurs. Proof of residency can be accomplished by providing: tax records, lease agreements, mortgage documents, a W-2 Form, current weapons permit, current utility bills (water, gas, electric, cable, etc), a letter from the Department or current Pennsylvania license.
- Any Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) issued on or after December 21, 2015, will be valid for no more than 180 days. Additionally, if a permit expires or was renewed once and needs to be renewed again, all knowledge tests must be retaken.
- Training Permits (a precursor to the learner’s permit) will no longer be issued to school bus drivers as of December 21, 2015.
- The 15 day training period will be reset any time an endorsement or restriction removal is added to a permit, if it also requires a skills test, as of December 21, 2015. This includes existing CDL holders.
- A CLP will not be issued to anyone who does not hold a current and valid driver’s license as of December 21, 2015. Individuals will be required to obtain a non-commercial driver’s license prior to making application for a commercial learner’s permit.
PennDOT has begun phasing in the new Commercial Driver Skills Test (CDST). PennDOT testing centers began using the new test the week of June 15, 2015. Third party testing facilities must begin using the new test as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2015.
If you are a commercial driver and have a question about any restrictions you may be facing on your license or if you have a condition that impairs your ability to drive a commercial motor vehicle you should speak to an experienced Pennsylvania attorney.