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Looking Both Ways

Drivers Physical Exam Self Certification

By John Mueller, CDS, COSS
Posted Dec 13th 2014 5:24AM

Drivers Physical Exam Self Certification

What is expected of CDL drivers after a DOT Physical?


This post of Look Both Ways will help you understand how to self-certify your DOT Medical Exam or Physical under the laws that became effective January 30, 2014. It’s been almost a year since this requirement began and there is still much confusion. In a nutshell, you report your DOT physical to the state that issues your CDL driver’s license. This process is called self-certification.

Who exactly is required to do this? Answer - drivers that are required to get a DOT physical. Technically drivers of commercial vehicles in interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms) are required to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner's Certificate (ME Certificate). But wait, Non-CDL holders are not required to self-certify or submit a copy of their Physical (ME Certificate) to their State Driver Licensing Agency. So many regulations, so many confusing stipulations.

Here are some steps to help you comply. First determine whether you operate in interstate or intrastate commerce, and are excepted or non-excepted from either the Federal or State requirements. Interstate is “between states and across state lines”. Intrastate is that you stay within the boundaries of just one state. Read on about excepted and non-excepted below. You must certify to your State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) that you fall into one of the four operation categories listed below.

Again, all CDL holders are required to declare to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) that they only operate or expect to drive commercially in 1 of 4 possible categories with their CDL. The categories are:

• Interstate non-excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements (e.g. – you are "not excepted").

• Interstate excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.

• Intrastate non-excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for your State.

• Intrastate excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for your State.

So what is Excepted or Non-excepted? More confusion.

Interstate Commerce -- Excepted or Non-excepted:

If the only type of commercial driving you do is one of the following excepted activities, then you operate in excepted interstate commerce and do not need to submit a federal medical examiner's certificate.

• Transporting school children and/or school staff between home and school;

• Driving as a federal, state or local government employee;

• Transporting human corpses, or sick or injured persons;

• Operating a fire truck or rescue vehicle during emergencies and other related activities;

• Primarily transporting propane winter heating fuel when responding to an emergency condition requiring immediate response such as damage to a propane gas system after a storm or flooding;

• Responding to a pipeline emergency condition requiring immediate response such as a pipeline leak or rupture;

• Working in custom harvesting on a farm or to transport farm machinery and supplies used in the custom harvesting operation to and from a farm or to transport custom harvested crops to storage or market;

• Working as a beekeeper in the seasonal transportation of bees;

• Operating a vehicle controlled and operated by a farmer, but not a combination vehicle (power unit and towed unit), that is used to transport agricultural products, farm machinery or farm supplies, but not placardable hazardous materials, to and from a farm and within 150 air miles of the farm;

• Driving as a private motor carrier of passengers for nonbusiness purposes; or

• Transporting migrant workers.

If your commercial driving does not include any of the activities listed above, then you operate in non-excepted interstate commerce and are required to provide a current medical examiner's certificate (49 CFR 391.45), commonly referred to as a medical certificate or DOT card.

Most commercial drivers operating in interstate commerce are non-excepted interstate commerce drivers. Most drivers operating vehicles which require a CDL driver’s license for Expedite companies fall in this category.

If you operate in both excepted interstate commerce and non-excepted interstate commerce, you must choose non-excepted interstate commerce.

So we now understand that CDL holders must provide their SDLA with a copy of their ME Certificate (driver’s physical). This information is only being added to the State driving records of CDL holders. Non-CDL holders are not required to self-certify or submit a copy of their ME Certificate to their SDLA. CDL holders, who are found driving in a category other than one to which they self-certified, are subject to suspension or revocation of their commercial driving privileges, so make sure you get it right! CDL drivers, who do not update the expiration date of their ME Certificate with their State, will have their commercial driving privileges downgraded to an operator’s type license, and will not be eligible to drive a commercial motor vehicle that requires a CDL. You will be relegated to “four-wheeler” status if you fail to keep up with these requirements when you renew your DOT physical.

For information how your state is collecting information on your physical examination use the following link:

Once you properly self-certify your DOT physical your state driver licensing agency will be adding your medical self-certification status and the information on your medical examiner's certificate to your Commercial Driver's License System (CDLIS) record.


If you possess a Medical Waiver from the DOT be sure to always carry that waiver with you in your commercial motor vehicle. Stay current on all requirements for the waiver. Waivers and physicals may expire on different dates. Be sure to track both expiration dates.

All drivers should seek to renew their physicals prior to the expiration date. Please don’t wait until the day your physical expires to renew your Medical Examination. Should your physical conditions change, such as blood pressure, you could be without a driving position until the medical condition is resolved or addressed.

 What is expected of CDL drivers after a DOT Physical? Gosh – it’s a ball of confusion. If you need help with self-certification please ask for assistance from the safety department at your Carrier, or send an email with your contact info.

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of, OnTimeMedia, Premium Transportation Logistics LLC or the Premium Group LLC.

Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.

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Till the next blog, Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!

John Mueller, CDS, COSS

[email protected]