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May 2014

CDL Compliance Case Study: Medical Certification

BY Myrna Traylor


The medical certification program is an example of how rule-making bodies and implementation teams have reached workable solutions through a process of give and take.

Under the FMCSA rule, commercial drivers must be medically certified to drive; that certification should be incorporated into the CDL document and recorded in state licensing authority databases. Moreover, only examiners (physicians or other health providers) who were themselves certified and registered could perform a driver’s physical exam. This was all tied to a compliance date of January 30, 2014.

Lack of funding or inadequate time to implement this provision forced a majority of states (34) to ask FMCSA administrator Anne S. Ferro for an extension (at last year’s AAMVA CDL conference, as a matter of fact). The request was granted. Drivers will need to carry a hard copy of their medical certification through January 2015, when all states must be in compliance with the combined CDL and “med cert” document.

Currently, the push is on to get more examiners certified and on the National Registry of Medical Examiners. (The deadline for registration is May 21, 2014.) Delaware, Minnesota and Wisconsin all report that they are up and running, and have major outreach programs in place to recruit examiners and to remind commercial drivers that they need to get medically certified.



A CDL driver must be examined by a medical professional who is listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners in order for his or her medical certifications to be valid. By certifying the medical examiners who examine CDL drivers and creating a network, the FMCSA is taking a step toward incorporating the medical certificate into the CDL document for the individual states, which will become mandatory in 2015.