The Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced today the extension of the medical examiner’s certificate retention requirement to January 30, 2015, a one year extension. Previously, after the upcoming january 30, 2014 self certification deadline requirement (which remains unchanged), CDL drivers needed to only keep or retain their medical examiner’s certificate in their possession for 15 days. It was thought that 15 days would allow enough time for the State Driver License Agency (SDLA) to link the medical examiner’s certificate to a driver’s CDL in the Commercial Driver Licensing Information System (CDLIS). Once liked, the CDL driver would no longer need to carry his medical examiner’s certificate. The FMCSA stated that the one year extension is to assure the adequate documentation of the medical qualification of CDL holders (including CDL permit holders) by the SDLA into the CDLIS. Once the driver has self certified to the type of driving he intends to engage in (i.e Non-Exepted Interstate, Non-Excepted Intrastate, Excepted Interstate, and Excepted Intrastate ), that information will be entered by the SDLA into the CDLIS. It appears that more time is needed by the States to do this. It does not however change the January 30, 2014 deadline to self certify. Drivers still need to comply by that date. The difference now is that they will still need to carry their medical examiner’s certificate with them for another year. This announcement has apparently led to some confusion in the media and to truckers in general. The announcement from the FMCSA today clarifies the situation and can be found at the link to the FMCSA website at the end of this post.
Ultimately, it is expected that the FMCSA’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for the integration of the Medical Examiner Certification with the CDL that was issued back on May 10, 2013 will be fully implemented. This is expected to occur approximately 3 years from the publication of the final rule, which means that after a DOT physical, a medical examiner’s certificate will no longer need to be issued by the certified medical examiner. The outcome or result of a CDL driver’s DOT physical would be entered by the certified medical examiner into the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners database and would be captured by the CDLIS. That will be the DOT physical exam of the future (near future).
At the present time, CDL drivers just need to remember to self certify by January 30, 2014, and keep their medical examiner’s certificate on them while operating a commercial vehicle until January 30, 2015. Motor carriers should of course continue to retain copies of their driver’s medical examiner’s certificate in their driver’s qualification files.
Of note, the self certification requirement and the previous 15 day retention rule now extended for one year, do not apply to non-CDL drivers (those operating commercial vehicles greater than or equal to 10,001 pounds but less than 26,000 pounds, who are required to meet FMCSA driver medical qualifications by having a DOT physical exam).
Link to announcement on FMCSA Website: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/rulemakings/rule-programs/rule_making_details.aspx?ruleid=468