Beginning on January 30, 2012, a commercial driver’s medical certification will become part of his/her commercial driver’s license driving record. One of the purposes of the new regulation is to enable roadside law enforcement to electronically confirm that the commercial driver has a valid medical certification by linking that information with the Commercial Driver’s License Information System. Any holder of a commercial driver’s license, who is subject to the physical qualification requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSRs”), will be required to provide a current original or copy of his or her medical examiner’s certificate (“Medical Card”) to the driver’s issuing State Driver Licensing Agency (“SDLA”). The requirement to present one’s Medical Card will be triggered upon one of the following events: a driver applies for a CDL; renews a CDL; applies for a higher class of CDL; applies for a new endorsement on a CDL; or transfers a CDL from another State.
The new regulation distinguishes between four types of drivers; the holder of a CDL will be required to notify their respective SDLA as to which type of driver he/she is or expects to be. The four types of drivers are as follows: interstate non-excepted; interstate excepted; intrastate non-excepted; or intrastate excepted. An interstate non-excepted driver must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements. If accepted, a driver will not have to meet the physical qualification requirements of the FMCSRs. The same is true for the intrastate non-excepted and excepted categories.
If a driver is subject to FMCSR medical card requirements, he/she should provide a copy of each new medical card to his/her SDLA prior to the expiration of his/her current medical card. Holders of a CDL required to have a medical card, but who fail to provide or keep current their medical card with their SDLA, will have their license downgraded or may lose their CDL all together.
The program is to be fully implemented by each state by January 30, 2014. Until that time, an interstate driver subject to the CDL regulations and the FMCSRs regarding physical qualification requirements must retain paper copies of their medical examiner’s certificate. Interstate motor carriers are similarly required to retain copies of their drivers’ medical certificates in their driver qualification files through January 30, 2014. As a practical matter, it would be wise for a commercial driver to continue to carry his/her medical card, whether required to or not. Continuing to carry one’s medical card is a small price to pay to know that he/she will be able verifies that they have meet the FMCSRs physical qualification requirements in the event modern technology fails.