The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all drivers who drive a vehicle interstate weighing more than 10,000 pounds to obtain a valid Medical Certificate. You must schedule an exam with a licensed Medical Examiner from the Department of Transportation (DOT) when you first apply for your commercial driver’s license and every two years thereafter. The name and specialty of the provider must appear on the FMCSA National Registry. Common examples of acceptable providers include medical doctors, physician assistants, chiropractors, and doctors of osteopathy.
You must pass your DOT exam to receive a Medical Certificate good for two years. The Medical Examiner also has the authority to issue the certificate for less than two years. This can happen if he or she would like to check the status of a chronic health condition like high blood pressure. You receive one copy of your physical exam record if you pass as well as a Medical Examiner’s Certificate.
Receiving a medical certificate with a chronic health condition.
The FMCSA recognizes that many excellent drivers manage persistent health challenges such as hearing loss or diabetes just fine. However, it must also weigh the risk of allowing people with certain health conditions to drive commercially against public safety. The following is just a partial list of conditions you should report to your Medical Examiner:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hearing loss
- Multiple sclerosis
- Musculoskeletal disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
- Parkinson’s disease
- Psychiatric disorders
- Renal disease
- Seizure disorders
- Traumatic brain injury
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Vision disorders
The Medical Examiner won’t automatically disqualify you from a commercial driving position if you have one of these health conditions. Instead, he or she will note the issue and any precautions or restrictions you must abide by while on the job. For example, you may need to demonstrate that you can hear normal traffic sounds like horns blowing with your typical form of amplification.
New conditions may disqualify you from driving even with a valid medical certificate
Just because your original Medical Certificate is valid for two years doesn’t mean you should continue driving if you have a new health issue. Maybe you have been an accident since then that left you with chronic fatigue and memory impairment. The FMCSA must know about all new injuries or diagnoses that could impact your ability to drive a commercial vehicle safely. You should inform your immediate supervisor of the new development, discontinue driving, and schedule a DOT physical exam right away.
If the new medical condition resolves, you may apply for recertification from a qualified Medical Examiner. If it’s not expected to resolve, the examiner may deny the request or approve it with limited conditions.
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