Should CDL Extensions Go National?


Without a CDL, truck drivers can’t haul freight. That’s why we always recommend you get your CDL license renewed as soon as you need. Unfortunately, the recent COVID pandemic has caused delays in the processing of the CDL renewals.

And without a CDL, truck drivers make no money and can’t put food on the table.

Since truckers face such a dire situation by letting a CDL expire, it comes as no surprise that California is extending the window for drivers that need to renew their license.

Traditional Renewal Requirements By State

Before the pandemic, states established a specific amount of years allowed to pass between each CDL renewal. For most, this federally mandated system is set up on a four-year cycle with the exact date being either the last day the CDL was updated or a driver’s birthday.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, listed below:

  • Every five years on the driver’s birthday: Nebraska, Iowa, Alaska, and South Dakota
  • Every eight years on CDL holder’s birthday: Virginia

That said, those that miss the renewal opportunity may be required to retake the written test, or go through the entire CDL certification process all over again. Which is a lot of hassle to deal with if you had to take a year off for a family or medical emergency.

What is California Doing?

Taking this into consideration, California has decided to make the licensing process a bit less stressful for truckers by offering them a temporary extension for renewals of both their CDL and the required medical certificate. By doing so, the state hopes to aid truck drivers in their mission to keep essential freight moving during the pandemic.

California extended any license set to expire from March through September 30th back to the September 30th date. This has been pushed back even further from the original June 30th date. So if you are driving in California, you don’t need to get renewed until September 30th

This extension automatically applies to California drivers. Those that would like to receive a new card or physical proof of the extension may do so online if they are under the age of 70. Everyone else should receive proof of their CDL extension in the mail.

Should This Happen Nationally?

The decision to extend the CDL renewal window in California has many benefits. Drivers are keeping the country alive during this time as people rely on constant groceries, medical supplies, online deliveries, and, of course, toilet paper.

Any delay in the renewal of a CDL keeps these essential workers off the road. Those who don’t have to go to the DMV to renew their license mid-pandemic also have a lower risk of spreading COVID. Other perks are listed below.

  • Mail reminder ensures truckers do not forget to renew
  • Requesting a new card online takes way less time to complete than in person for both drivers and the clerks
  • Lower stress for drivers worried about renewing their CDL, which has additional health benefits.

Clearly, extending the CDL renewal window is an ideal situation for truckers as well as their families and communities. So why hasn’t this gone national?