Federal Regulations, Law Changes Affect Commercial Drivers

HARRISBURG, Pa. – With an eye toward improving the safe operation of commercial vehicles in Pennsylvania and meeting federal guidelines, Governor Tom Wolf recently signed a law that made significant changes to the issuance and renewal of commercial driver’s licenses.

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.

“Act 49 significantly changes our processes for issuing commercial driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “These changes are designed to have a positive impact on the operation of commercial vehicles in the Commonwealth, making our highways safer not only for commercial vehicle operators, but for all drivers.”

The more significant changes highlighted in Act 49 include:

– The time period for school bus drivers to have their annual physical and vision examinations completed has been extended from every 12 months to every 13 months. Additionally, Training Permits – a precursor to the learner’s permit – will no longer be issued to school bus drivers as of December 21, 2015.

– Codes used to describe CDL classifications, endorsements and restrictions will change beginning December 21, 2015. A listing of the new codes has been added to our website at www.dmv.pa.gov.

– 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 one time. License holders must present proof of citizenship or legal presence in the form of a birth certificate, passport, naturalization documents or current immigration documents in person. Also, 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. After presenting proof of residency and citizenship in person once, subsequent CDL applications may be submitted through the mail.

– 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 that will include a knowledge test and skills test depending on the restriction to be removed.

– Any Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) issued on or after December 21, 2015, will be valid for no more than 180 days and a CLP will not be issued to anyone who does not hold a current and valid driver’s license as of December 21, 2015. If a permit expires or was renewed once and needs to be renewed again, all knowledge tests must be retaken. Additionally, any time an endorsement or restriction removal is added to a permit as of December 21, 2015, including existing CDL holders, the 15-day training period will be reset.

More information on the changes to CDL requirements is available by clicking on Driver Licensing at www.dmv.pa.gov, then clicking on the Commercial Driver tab, then the Act 49 CDL Changes/New CDL Skills Testing tab.

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