Last updated on April 23, 2023
CDL Medical Requirements
Driving a large truck or bus is far more physically and mentally demanding than driving your ordinary passenger vehicle. Because of these higher demands and to make the public roadways safe for everyone, federal regulations state that certain CDL medical requirements must be met by CLP applicants and holders and CDL license applicants and holders.
CDL Medical Exam
The CDL medical exam, also known as a CDL DOT physical is required if you are applying for/or a holder of a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) or a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and you are going to operate a certain class of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). A CDL medical exam is required if you are going to operate a CMV that meets any of the following criteria:
A CMV that has a gross combination vehicle weight or weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more including a towed vehicle with a gross vehicle weight or weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more.
A single CMV that has a gross vehicle weight or weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more.
A CMV that is designed or used for transporting 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
A CMV that is used to transport hazardous materials requiring placarding or any quantity of select agents or toxins.
Source: 49 CFR 391.43
CDL Medical Exam Report Form
The CDL medical exam (CDL DOT physical) form must be completed by a licensed “medical examiner” that is listed on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. If you need to find a licensed “medical examiner” near you that can perform the CDL medical exam, you can search for one on the FMCSA’s National Medical Examiners Registry. There are two sections to the CDL medical exam report form.
Section 1: This section contains all of the driver information. You will have to provide all of your personal information, which is verified by providing a government issued photo I.D. that contains your personal information such as address, date of birth, age, driver’s license number etc. In this section you will also be asked if you have ever had a CDL medical card denied or issued for a period of less than two years. You will also have to answer the driver medical history questions, such as previous surgeries, medications, and information on any health conditions you have.
Section 2: This section will consist of the medical examiner reviewing your medical history with you, conducting the actual physical exam, and required testing. The following tests are required:
Height, weight, and pulse rate
Urinalysis – specific gravity, protein, blood, and sugar levels
CDL Medical Documentation Requirements
All CDL license holders who drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that requires a CDL license are required to have a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (CDL Medical Card).
All CDL license holders are required to self-certify to their State CDL licensing Agency that they only operate or expect to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in one of the four following categories:
Interstate non-excepted (non-exempt): You are certifying that you are expecting to or are going to be operating a CMV engaged in interstate commerce and are required to have a DOT medical card and meet the CDL medical card requirements under 49 CFR 391.
Interstate excepted (exempt): You are certifying that you are expecting to or are going to be operating a CMV engaged in interstate commerce, but you are going to be engaged exclusively in transportation or operations excepted (exempted) under 49 CFR 390.3(f), 49 CFR 391.2, 49 CFR 391.68, or 49 CFR 398.3 from the DOT medical card requirements under 49 CFR 391 and are not required to have a DOT medical card.
Complete list of excepted (exempt) activities:
Transporting school children/staff to and from school. 49 CFR 390.3(f)(1)
Federal, State, or local government employees transporting for official government business. 49 CFR 390.3(f)(2)
Individual transporting personal property (not for hire). 49 CFR 390.3(f)(3)
Transporting sick or injured people or human corpses. 49 CFR 390.3(f)(4)
Fire and rescue operations. 49 CFR 390.3(f)(5)
Transporting between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) (not for hire). 49 CFR 390.3(f)(6)
Transporting propane for winter heating. 49 CFR 390.3(f)(7)
Engaged in custom harvesting operations. 49 CFR 391.2(a)
Transporting custom harvested crops. 49 CFR 391.2(a)(2)
Beekeepers operating a CMV to transport bees. 49 CFR 391.2(b)
Operating a farm vehicle (straight truck only) not carrying any placard-able hazardous materials or to transport farm products, machinery, or supplies within 150 air-mile radius of the farm. 49 CFR 391.2(c)
Operating a CMV for liquid or pipeline emergencies. 49 CFR 391.2(e)
Operation of a private (not for hire) motor carrier of passengers. 49 CFR 391.68
Transporting migrant workers. 49 CFR 398.3
Intrastate non-excepted (non-exempt): You are certifying that you are expecting to or are going to be operating a CMV engaged in intrastate commerce only and you are required to have a medical card and meet the medical requirements for your State.
Intrastate excepted (exempt): You are certifying that you are expecting to or are going to be operating a CMV engaged in intrastate commerce only and you are not required to have a medical card or meet the medical requirements from your State.
CDL license holders with physical impairments (examples: hearing impairment, diabetic impairment) that affect their ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle in a safe manner are required to get a “variance” document from their State CDL licensing agency in order to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and the driver must have that document with them while driving. There is also a special “variance” certification document required for CDL license holders with impaired or missing limbs. This special “variance” requires a Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certification that must be carried by the CDL license holder at all times.