January 2015 Changes to Medical Certification for CDL Holders

Commercial Driver's License (CDL) holders that are classified as engaging in non-excepted interstate commerce have until January 30, 2015 to self-certify their operating status and provide medical examiner's certificates to their state driver licensing agency (SDLA). Following the January 30, 2015 deadline, medical paper certificates will be valid for the first 15 days after issuance. After the 15-day limit, the certificate will be recorded on CDL holders' driving records and will be considered a valid medical certification.

Drivers with physical impairments that affect their ability to safely operate Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) must obtain a "variance" from their state in order to be approved for commercial driving. The variance document must be carried with the driver whenever they are operating a CMV.

A Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) is a special type of "variance" required for drivers with impaired or missing limbs (e.g., a hand or finger, an arm, foot, or leg). Drivers with these conditions, if eligible, must obtain an SPE certificate and carry it at all times. The document contains the requirements for any special equipment that the driver must be wearing, or that the commercial vehicle must possess, in order to be operated.

State agencies that do not receive self-certification, medical certificates and any required variance from CDL-holders by the compliance deadline must notify drivers that they are no longer medically certified for non-excepted interstate commerce. State officials will remove interstate CDL privileges from the licenses of those out of compliance.

Motor carriers who employ a CDL driver to operate in non-excepted interstate commerce must place his or her current Commercial Driver's License System (CDLIS) MVR, documenting the driver's medical certification status, in the driver's qualification (DQ) file before allowing the driver to operate a CMV.

  • The receipt issued to the driver when the certificate is presented to the SDLA may be used for this purpose for up to 15 days from the date of the receipt or date stamp.
  • The motor carrier must obtain the CDLIS MVR to verify:
    • The driver's self-certification to operate in non-excepted interstate commerce
    • That a non-excepted interstate driver has a medical status of "certified"
    • That the driver was issued a medical variance by FMCSA, if applicable

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