What are the medical certification requirements to obtain a CDL?

In order to obtain a CDL class license in the United States, you must pass the medical examination standards established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). After passing the medical examination, you must submit a medical examination certificate to the DMV, in addition your application for a commercial license.

In the past, all CDL drivers were required to carry a copy of this medical certificate at all times when operating a commercial vehicle; however, beginning January 30, 2012, CDL drivers with a current medical certificate on file are no longer required to carry a physical copy.

Qualifications of a CDL Driver

According to the FMCSA, you qualify as a CDL driver if:

  • You drive a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) exceeding 10,001 pounds.
  • You drive a motor vehicle with the capacity for 15 or more passengers, including the driver.
  • You drive a motor vehicle with the capacity for nine or more passengers, for the purpose of direct compensation over a distance exceeding 75 air miles.
  • You drive a hazardous materials transport vehicle requiring placards.

FMCSA Medical Regulations for a CDL Driver

According to FMCSA regulations, persons with any of the following medical conditions will potentially be denied a medical certificate:

  • Loss of a limb or appendage, such as a leg, foot, arm, or hand.
  • Impairment of the hands or fingers, to the degree that it interferes with gripping.
  • Impairment of limb function, to the degree that it hinders the driver’s ability to operate the commercial vehicle.
  • Diabetes mellitus, controlled by regular doses of insulin.
  • Cardiovascular disease involving syncope, dyspnea, potential collapse or cardiac failure.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Respiratory dysfunction.
  • Severe arthritis or vascular disease.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Psychiatric disorder, including nervous disorders.
  • Less than 20/40 vision.
  • Impaired hearing.
  • Controlled substance abuse.
  • Clinically diagnosed alcoholism.
Medical certificates are issued at the discretion of the medical examiner, in adherence with the exam instructions established by the FMCSA.

Before Taking the CDL Test

Prior to taking the CDL test, you must submit proof of passing the medical exam to the DMV.

The majority of states require the US DOT Medical Examiner’s Physical Examination Form CO730, but other states – such as Connecticut –will also accept an Examination to Determine Physical Condition of Driver form. Both forms must be completed by a licensed medical physician.

CDL Test Preparation

You can prepare for the CDL test by studying the CDL drivers manual in your state. You can also take a CDL practice test online, courtesy of a variety of online driver education websites.

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