CDL Medical Exam FAQ

18 Jul by Avery L Jenkins, DC

CDL Medical Exam FAQ

Click here to find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about your CDL medical exam.


How often am I required to pass the medical exam?

You have to renew your medical certificate every 2 years at the most. Some drivers may have conditions which require closer monitoring, and will receive a medical certificate that is valid for less than two years.

What is included in the CDL medical exam?

We check the normal things that would be evaluated in any physical: vital signs, like blood pressure, heart rate, height and weight. We also check your vision and hearing to ensure that you satisfy federal and state requirements.  Please make sure, if you wear glasses when driving or hearing aids, that you bring them with you to the exam. You may need them to pass.

We also check your urine. The urine test is not a drug test, but to ensure that your body is working correctly. It does not have to be a fasting test.

What if I fail my CDL medical exam?

Drivers who are unable to meet the full CDL physical exam requirements due to a medical condition may still be able to obtain a commercial license by applying for an exemption document. For instance, drivers who do not meet the diabetes, hearing, seizure and/or vision standards of their CDL medical exam can submit a formal request for a waiver with the FMCSA federal exemption programs.  (Note: If you can pass the vision or hearing portion of the exam with glasses or hearing aids, no exemption is required!) Commercial drivers applying for these exceptions may be required to include copies of their medical exams, employment history and driver’s records. Note that these exemption programs are only available to drivers who fail their DOT physical requirements for interstate commercial operations.

Even commercial motorists who fail their CDL physical tests as a result of impaired or missing limbs, such as hands, fingers, arms, feet or legs may be able to qualify for a commercial driving license. The FMCSA Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) program was implemented to offer an opportunity to drivers fitted with a prosthetic device to successfully obtain a CDL credential. For example, even if you do not meet the DOT physical standards due to a physical impairment, you can enroll in the SPE program for a chance to demonstrate your ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle. If you pass the skills test, you will earn eligibility for a SPE certificate. Note that this program is limited to drivers engaged in interstate commerce.

Can I still pass the medical exam if I use recreational drugs?

The CDL medical exam does not require a drug screen. However, if you report using recreational drugs on the FMCSA Medical Examination Report Form, you cannot pass the exam. This includes reporting marijuana use. Although marijuana has been legalized in many states, at the federal level, it remains an illegal recreational drug, and will prevent you from receiving a medical certificate. This same logic applies to medical marijuana. If you report that you are using medically-prescribed marijuana, you cannot pass the medical exam.



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