Learn About Medical Examination Requirements for CDL Holders

To operate a commercial vehicle, a senior driver must take a CDL physical to be eligible to get his or her commercial drivers license, or CDL. A senior driver who operates a commercial vehicle is responsible for his or her safety, as well as the safety of everyone else on the road, from fellow drivers to any onboard passengers. The CDL medical exam you take for your medical certificate is designed to prove that you are healthy enough to drive a commercial vehicle, and that you can do so safely. The CDL medical exam is consistent with federal guidelines and regulations, and is performed by state-qualified medical examiners across the country. A senior driver can find the CDL physical exam forms he or she needs via the state DMV. He or she can also easily find a certified medical examiner to perform the CDL physical, which will help speed up the process. Learn more about CDL medical requirements by reviewing the sections below.

Who needs to take a CDL medical exam?

Taking a CDL physical exam determines the health conditions of a senior driver interested in operating a motor vehicle for commercial purposes. CDL licensed drivers are known for driving long distances; therefore, it is important that each senior driver meet certain CDL medical requirements to ensure his or her overall fitness to be behind the wheel professionally.

A CDL physical exam is required for any senior driver who wishes to learn how to obtain a CDL and drive a commercial vehicle that falls under interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 pounds. By taking and passing a medical exam, you are guaranteeing your Medical Examiner (ME) Certificate.

How to Self-Certify for Senior CDL Holders

Before taking a CDL physical test, senior drivers must declare to their state driving agencies before issuance that they intend to only operate commercial vehicles in one of four categories: interstate non-excepted, interstate excepted, intrastate non-excepted and intrastate excepted. This process is called self-certification. Before a senior driver can self-certify or take the medical exam, he or she must determine whether to operate in one of the four below categories from either the state or federal requirements:

  • Interstate non-excepted: You must meet the federal ME Certificate requirements
  • Interstate excepted: You do not have to meet the federal ME Certificate requirement
  • Intrastate non-excepted: You must meet the medical requirements for your state
  • Intrastate excepted: You do not have to meet the medical requirements for your state

Find Out About CDL Medical Exam Requirements

When a senior driver certifies with his or her state in one category, the CDL medical exam becomes an obligation, and taking it should be done immediately. He or she must also provide a copy of each new ME certification for the CDL license physical test to the state.

As part of the CDL physical exam requirements, senior drivers are required to fill out the medical history section of the Medical Examination Report (MER) form. For those senior drivers certifying as non-excepted interstate or intrastate commerce, make sure the CDL medical document is on file with the state, and that it remains current. If a driver fails to present valid medical documentation or meet CDL medical requirements, he or she may be refused the issuance or renewal of the CDL, and failure to maintain his to her current medical literature may result in a CDL disqualification.

How to Find a Qualified Medical Examiner for a Senior CDL Exam

A senior driver must have his or her CDL physical test conducted by a licensed medical examiner. A driver can find a doctor who meets federal standards from a list of qualified doctors. The list of those approved to conduct the CDL physical exam include: physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and chiropractors. If a medical examiner determines after a CDL license physical exam that the senior driver examined is physically qualified to operate a commercial vehicle by the federal qualification standards, the medical examiner will then issue an ME Certificate. The medical examiner will keep on file a copy of the senior driver’s test results for at least three years, and the medical CDL exam is valid for 24 months. In some cases, when a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, needs to be monitored, a medical examiner may issue an ME Certificate for less than 24 months.

What are physical impairments?

A senior driver may have a physical impairment, which could affect his or her medical exam for CDL and the ability to operate a vehicle safely. If this is the case, he or she must obtain variance from the state, which will give the senior driver approval to drive commercially. The variance document must be carried on a senior driver’s person every time he or she operates a vehicle commercially.

Learn About the CDL Skill Performance Program

The Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certification, which is separate from the medical exam, allows for CDL drivers in interstate commerce to drive with missing or impaired limbs across state lines if they have been fitted with, and are wearing, the right prosthetic devices. If CDL medical requirements are met by a senior driver to obtain an SPE certificate, he or she must be able to demonstrate the ability to drive a commercial vehicle safely by completing both on-and-off road activities.

Are there any exam exemptions for seniors?

Senior drivers may be eligible for an exemption from the CDL physical test if unable to obtain an ME Certificate because they do not currently meet the hearing, seizure, diabetes and vision standards. All exemptions are for senior drivers who plan to operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce. The exemptions do not pertain to senior drivers who plan to work in intrastate commerce.