FMCSA Relaxes Commercial Learner’s Permit Rule


With a December 21 Federal Register notice, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amended its regulations to allow States the option of issuing a commercial learner's permit (CLP) with an expiration date of up to one year from the date of issuance. The CLP must be valid for no more than one year without requiring the CLP holder to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests. CLPs issued for a period of less than one year may be renewed provided the CLP is not valid for more than one year from the date of initial issuance.

This rule does not require a State to revise its current CLP issuance practices unless it chooses to do so. This rule is a deregulatory action as defined by Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” This is the so-called two-for-one order issued by President Trump in 2017, directing all agencies to repeal at least two existing regulations for each new regulation issued in FY 2017 and thereafter.

The primary entities affected by this final rule are State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLA) and of course CLP-holders as well as their employers. Under the final rule, the decision by an SDLA to issue a CLP that is valid for up to one year is discretionary, so there is no way to predict how many of the 51 SDLAs may choose to issue a CLP that is valid for up to one year; nor is there any way to estimate the number of CLP holders that will be affected by the final rule. Nonetheless, FMCSA maintains there will be cost savings and other benefits as a result of this rule.

This final rule is effective February 19, 2019. For access to docket FMCSA-2016-0346 to read background documents and comments received, go to