Commercial Driver’s License / Department of Transportation Physical Exams.
On December 9th, 1999, President Clinton signed into law the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. This act transferred the Office of Motor Carriers from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to establish the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
FMCSA activities contribute to ensuring safety in motor carrier operations through strong enforcement of safety regulations; targeting high-risk carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers; improving safety information systems and commercial motor vehicle technologies; strengthening commercial motor vehicle equipment and operating standards; and increasing safety awareness.
What Kind of Doctor Performs a CDL/D.O.T. Physical Exam?
A Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) physical examination must be conducted by a licensed “medical examiner” listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. The term includes, but is not limited to, doctors of medicine (M.D.), doctors of osteopathy (D.O.), physician assistants (P.A.), advanced practice nurses (A.P.N), and doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.).
Who Needs A CDL/D.O.T. Physical Exam?
Medical certification in accordance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) physical qualification standards is required when the driver is operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce that:
- Has a combined gross vehicle weight or weight rating of 10,001 lbs. or more.
- Is designed or used to transport 9-15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation.
- Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) whether for compensation or not.
- Transports hazardous materials in quantities that require placarding under the hazardous materials regulations.
When a driver returns from an illness or injury that interferes with driving ability, the driver must undergo a medical examination even if the medical examiner’s certificate has not expired.
The medical examiner is responsible for certifying only drivers who meet the physical qualification standards. Certification cannot exceed 2 years, and at the discretion of the FMCSA medical examiner, may be less than 2 years. The Federal Vision and Diabetes Exemption Programs require annual medical certification.
How Long is a CDL/D.O.T. Medical Certificate Good For?
A DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months. The medical examiner may also issue a medical examiner’s certificate for less than 24 months when it is desirable to monitor a condition, such as high blood pressure.
The medical examiner’s certificate expires at midnight of the day, month, and year written on the certificate. There is no grace period on the expiration. The driver must be re-examined and recertified to continue to drive legally.