FMCSA links CDL, medical certification programs

Interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders subject to the physical qualification requirements of the federal safety regulations will have to provide a current copy of their medical examiner’s certificates to their state driver licensing agency (SDLA) under a long-awaited final rule published today, Dec. 1.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule also requires the SDLA to record on the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) driver record the self-certification the driver made regarding the applicability of the federal driver qualification rules and, for drivers subject to the requirements, the medical certification status information required by the rule.

The rule, which was required by the same 1999 law that created FMCSA, takes effect Jan. 30, 2009. States must comply by Jan. 30, 2012, and all CDL holders must submit their self-certification by Jan. 30, 2014, as to whether or not they are subject to the physical qualification rules.

In general, FMCSA regulates physical qualifications for four basic categories of interstate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers depending on the vehicle operated:

  • Those with gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross combination weight (GCW), whichever is greater, of at least 10,001 pounds;
  • Those designed or used to transport for compensation more than eight passengers, including the driver;
  • Those designed or used to transport not for compensation more than 15 passengers, including the driver; and
  • Those used to transport hazardous materials that require a placard.
  • FMCSA said the rule will help prevent medically unqualified drivers from operating on the nation’s highways by giving state licensing agencies a means of identifying interstate CDL holders who are unable to obtain a medical certificate and of taking action to downgrade their CDLs accordingly. The rule also will act to deter drivers from submitting falsified medical certificates because FMCSA and state enforcement personnel now will have access, though CDLIS, to information about the medical certificate and the identity of the medical examiner who performed the examination.

    In a related action, FMCSA has proposed to establish and maintain a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME). All medical examiners who conduct medical examinations for interstate CMV drivers would have to complete certain training concerning FMCSA physical qualification standards, pass a test to verify an understanding of those standards, and maintain competence by periodic training and testing.

    For more information on the final rule regarding medical certification and CDLs, go to and search Docket No. FMCSA-1997-2210. For more information on the proposed rule regarding NRCME, go to and search Docket No. FMCSA-2008-0363.