Outage of examiner registry prompts FMCSA to postpone implementation of electronic medical certificate rule

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FMCSA plans to delay a rule that would make medical certificates electronic for three years.FMCSA plans to delay a rule that would make medical certificates electronic for three years.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said last week it intends to postpone the implementation of a system meant to streamline communication between state licensing agencies and FMCSA regarding drivers’ medical certification status.

The multi-faceted rule, part of which took effect in January 2015, requires FMCSA to electronically transmit to state licensing agencies the results of drivers’ medical certifications once exams have been completed. FMCSA receives the information from medical examiners, who, starting June 2, will be required to upload to FMCSA the results of exams by midnight the day after they’re completed. State agencies, once they’ve received results from FMCSA, will then send the results to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) to make other states aware of drivers’ exam results.

However, due in part to the ongoing outage of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, the agency says it will postpone the requirements that FMCSA submit information to state agencies – and the requirement that state agencies send information to the CDLIS – for three years, until June 2021. Examiners will still be required to upload driver exam results by midnight the next day starting June 2, 2018. Examiners will continue issuing paper medical certifications to drivers, and drivers will still be required to provide their license-issuing state with their medical certificate as proof of certification.

FMCSA says it “has reluctantly concluded that it will not be able to electronically transmit [medical examiner’s certificate] information from the National Registry to the SDLAs nor will the SDLAs be able to electronically receive the MEC information from the National Registry for posting to the CDLIS driver record as intended by the Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration final rule.”

The agency mentioned “an incident that occurred in early December 2017” that caused it to take the National Registry offline that led to interruptions in the development of the electronic transmission process.

FMCSA says extending the compliance date to June 22, 2021, will “ensure that the [state agencies] have sufficient time once the final specifications are released to make the necessary information technology programming changes.”

This is part of the same rule the removed the requirement for drivers carry a physical copy of their medical certificate after the first 15 days after issuance, leaning on the electronic integration of drivers’ CDL information and medical certification status based on the the distribution of exam results from examiners to FMCSA, FMCSA to state agencies and the state agencies to the CDLIS.

However, until FMCSA implements the rule in full, drivers are required to self report their certification status to their state licensing agency, a requirement that has been in effect since Jan. 30, 2012.

FMCSA is accepting public comment on the notice for the next 60 days, through June 26.

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