BC Class 5 Driver’s Licences & Compliance with US Commercial Driver Medical Requirements

Posted on Mon, 2015-10-26 16:28
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On Monday October 19, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a notice to US law enforcement agencies reminding them of medical requirements for drivers who operate commercially in the US.

FMCSA’s notice is here. Drivers with a BC Class 5 driver’s licence operating two-axle vehicles over 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg) for commercial purposes in the US are required to meet FMCSA commercial driver medical standards. To comply with US law, ICBC is recommending that these drivers:

  1. Upgrade to a BC Class 1 through 4 driver’s licence to show that they meet US commercial driver medical standards, or

  2. Make an appointment with a medical examiner licenced in the US to complete an examination for the purpose of obtaining a commercial driver medical card that can be carried with their Class 5 driver’s licence while operating in the US. Click here for a list of certified medical examiners.

FMCSA is encouraging law enforcement not to issue violation tickets or place Class 5 drivers out of service for failing to provide proof of medical fitness to drive prior to April 1, 2016. However, while state law-enforcement agencies are being encouraged to place emphasis on “educational enforcement” until April 1, 2016, officers have the discretion to issue tickets and place drivers OOS before that date.

Important notes

  • US law enforcement recognizes drivers with BC Class 1-4 licences as being medically screened and compliant with FMCSA commercial driver medical standards (i.e., BC Class 1, 2, 3, and 4 licences, and equivalent licences issued in other provinces, are accepted as proof of medical fitness to drive in the US).

  • A BC Class 5 licence with endorsement code 18, 19 or 20 is technically also in compliance, given that any one of these endorsements triggers the medical review process in BC. However, ICBC is concerned that US law enforcement agencies may be unaware of the medical review component for these endorsements, which is why it is recommending a BC driver upgrade to a commercial class driver’s licence (i.e., a BC Class 1 through 4 licence).

BC Class 5 endorsement codes that trigger the driver medical review process

  • Code 18 - Off-highway (industrial) airbrake endorsement for single unit vehicles.

  • Code 19 - Off-highway (industrial) airbrake endorsement for combination vehicles.

  • Code 20 - Heavy trailer endorsement for trailers or towed vehicles that weigh more than 4,600 kg used in combination with a two-axle straight truck.

  • NOTE Code 15 – An on-highway airbrake endorsement (Code 15) does not trigger the requirement to undergo a driver medical examination. Therefore, a Class 5 licence with endorsement code 15 does not provide proof of medical fitness to drive in the US.

What BCTA is doing

Last week, BCTA requested that ICBC follow up with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators to remind the FMCSA that a BC Class 5 licence with endorsement 18, 19, or 20 triggers the commercial driver’s medical review process, and is consistent with FMCSA medical requirements. The notice issued on October 19, 2015, should recognize these endorsement codes as establishing medical fitness to drive in the US, just as is the case with BC Class 1 through 4 licences.

If FMCSA issues the clarification as requested, it would formally document how FMCSA’s Washington State Division and enforcement agencies such as Washington State Patrol have been treating BC Class 5 licences with one of these endorsements to-date. It would also mean that point 1 and 2 above become less relevant and drivers with Class 5 licences and endorsement 18, 19, or 20 are not going to be forced to upgrade to a higher licence-class or undergo duplicate medical screening in the US.

The compliance options for BC Class 5 drivers would be as follows:

  1. Driver with a Class 5 licence and endorsement 18, 19, or 20 – no change.

  2. Driver with a Class 5 licence without endorsement 18, 19, or 20 – obtain one of the three endorsements, or upgrade to a Class 1 through 4 licence, or undergo medical screening in the US to get a US commercial driver medical card.

ICBC sent this request to CCMTA on Friday, October 23, 2015, and will provide an update about the response from CCMTA and FMCSA as soon as it is available. We'll provide an update in the Bulletin.

For additional background about US medical certification requirements and Class 5 licences, see the January 16, 2014, Bulletin article, “US Medical Certificate Requirements – Canadian Drivers.”

If you have any questions, please contact BCTA’s Greg Kolesniak, Policy Director, at gregk@bctrucking.com or Lindsay Samson, BCTA Policy Analyst at lindsays@bctrucking.com.

Please share this article with your drivers.

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