OOIDA provides tips to avoid problems with medical certification

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 2/2/2016

In January 2015 states were required to tie a commercial driver’s medical certification to a driver’s CDL – so it was no longer necessary to carry it.

A year after the compliance deadline, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is still hearing stories from drivers of how states have failed to electronically attach the medical certification to their CDL. Some of those drivers have been forced to travel hundreds of miles back to their home state to resolve the issue.

The gist of the program was to eliminate the need to have the medical certificate in hand for roadside inspections. Law enforcement officials would, in theory, be able to look up on the roadside whether the driver was medically qualified the same time they verified the driver’s CDL.

Dale Watkins, from OOIDA’s Business Services Department, offers these suggestions to prevent this from happening:

  • Be sure the medical certification is filled out correctly and legible before leaving the certified medical examiner’s office.
  • Follow the state procedures for registering the medical certification to the CDL. This varies a lot between states.
  • Confirm with the state within seven to 10 days to make sure everything went through. Some states have websites that allow you to check, while you will need to call and confirm in others.
  • Carry the current medical certification with you at all times. Department of Transportation officers aren’t required to take it, but it does provide some credibility. 

The issue regarding states’ difficulty to attach the medical certification to a CDL goes back for a while.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a final rule in December 2008 that requires drivers to present proof of medical certification to their state driver’s licensing agency each time they get their medical card renewed. In turn, states are required to enter the certification so that law enforcement can access it on the roadside.

Since states weren’t ready, the FMCSA delayed requiring states to enter the information until Jan. 30, 2015.

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