Commercial Driver Responsibilities: Awareness of Federal and DMV Medical Standards

Commercial Driver Responsibilities: Awareness of Federal and DMV Medical Standards in Maryland

DOT Exam Halethorpe MD Commercial Driver

The DMV or the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Federal Government set specific regulations for commercial driver licensing. Commercial drivers in Halethorpe MD, Reisterstown MD, and Rosedale MD are required to meet these standards to ensure their own safety and that of others. Drivers are granted license only when they meet these medical standards.

Commercial Driver Responsibilities in Maryland

Driving is an occupation that demands intense concentration. Commercial drivers are required to drive amidst multiple risky conditions. These include high-risk weather conditions, other motorists on the road, and roaming animals. Commercial drivers handling heavy cargo or large rigs are exposed to an even greater risk.

Federal and DMV medical standards are applicable to:

  • Holders of commercial Class A & B level;
  • Commercial drivers that operate interstate;
  • Drivers carrying HAM or Hazardous Agricultural Material

Given the nature of the job, commercial drivers pose a greater risk to public safety. Drivers with a physical disability or a medical condition need to meet special criteria related to diet, rest, body mass index (BMI), and exercise. This may not be possible in an unfavorable driving environment, which augments public safety risk.

Given the demanding environmental conditions and the intense risk to public safety, compliance with medical standards have been made mandatory. Licenses are not granted to commercial drivers that do not meet these Federal medical standards.

Commercial Driver Responsibilities: Adherence to Medical Standards

The FMCSR – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – sets the standards that commercial vehicle drivers need to meet to become CDL (Commercial Driving License) holders.

These standards are meant to assess if an individual is physically eligible to operate a commercial vehicle. Standards cover several medical conditions.

Limited Use or Loss of Limbs

An individual is qualified to be a commercial driver if this physical impairment does not prevent him/ her from operating a motor vehicle efficiently. A skills performance evaluation may be needed.

Exceptions may be made in some cases and the driver may be granted a restricted commercial license. An aspirant must complete a drive test for a specified vehicle type to be granted such license.

Diabetes that Requires Insulin Administration

Individuals with diabetes shouldhave their A1C checked several times per year and know there last score when coming for renewal or new medical certification/s. Insulin dependent diabetics must bring form MCSA form 5781 completed by their physician.

Commercial driving does not provide a congenial environment for individuals to manage their dietary and sleep needs. This inability makes management of diabetes difficult.

Developments such as an injury, emotional stress, diarrhea, vomiting or infection, can complicate management of diabetes.

Residual symptoms of the condition are also considered when issuing a commercial license. Symptoms such as numbness of limbs and reduced vision are assessed as they can impact driving ability.

Given these complications of diabetes mellitus, a commercial vehicle license is rarely issued. A restricted interstate license may be granted in rare cases of exception.

Respiratory Issues

Respiratory conditions can result in symptoms/ outcomes such as dizziness, unconsciousness, and reduced focus. These can prove fatal during driving.

A clinical diagnosis or medical history of respiratory conditions that can make driving a risk, nullifies a license test.

Cardiovascular Issues

The driver should not have a clinic diagnosis citing issues of the cardiovascular system. Specifically, a medical history that shows shortness of breath, syncope, collapse or heart failure, disqualifies the driver. Exceptions can be made if the driver brings a clearance letter from their Cardiologist.

The concern of cardiovascular issues resulting in breathing troubles, unconsciousness, or even sudden death, sets aside the granting of exceptions.

Blood Pressure Imbalances

Uncontrolled blood pressure can damage several organs and parts, including the brain, heart, eyes and kidneys. Operating a commercial vehicle in such conditions is unthinkable.

Drivers that show a clinical diagnosis of uncontrollable hypertension at dangerous levels, are disqualified. ex; 180/110 or greater.

Issues of the Musculo-Skeletal System

Conditions such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diseases of the muscles, neuro-muscles, and of the blood vessels can disqualify aspirants. An exception may be made if the aspirant passes a drive test for the specific type of vehicle efficiently.

Epilepsy or an Inability to Control Vehicle Operation

A medical history or diagnosis of seizures can disqualify a driver, especially if the diagnosis shows presence of unconsciousness or recent seizure attacks. A driver must be seizure free for at least 8 years with or without medication.

If the individual is under anti-convulsant medicine, then he/ she is disqualified from interstate driving. The driver may qualify if blackouts occur due to a known reason, and the reason is no longer continuing, and is unlikely to reoccur.

It is best for individuals suffering from epilepsy to wait until they have completely recovered from the condition, to apply for a license.

Psychiatric or Functional Ailments

An inability to manage emotions can impact an individual’s focus, judgment, memory and reasoning. Functional disorders can induce dizziness, inattention, fatigue, or even paralysis. These can be debilitating for a driver and increase the risk of accidents. Qualification is not usually granted.

Use of drugs such as mood enhancers, painkillers and tranquilizers without a clearance letter may also be a disqualification.

Sight/ Auditory Issues

Specific distant vision and color recognition are tested for both eyes without the use of optical aids.

Restrictions are applied based on the findings. Color blindness in an applicant, may qualify him/ her in case of accurate detection of traffic lights.

An ability to hear whispered voices of applicable measurements without the use of an auditory aid, is essential. Hearing loss is also tested for qualification.

Exceptions are based on findings. For example, aspirants that suffer from a loss of hearing in both ears, and which cannot be corrected, are disqualified for interstate travel.

Use of Drugs

If the driver is a consumer of drugs listed as a FMCSR’s Appendix D Schedule 1 drug, then he/ she is disqualified. Exceptions may be made in rare cases.


Long-term alcohol dependence can lead to an impairment of mental and physical faculties, which may disqualify an aspirant. Current medical diagnosis is crucial to rule out existence of any debilitating symptoms of alcohol use.

The individual must have been sober for a significant time to have regained normal physical and mental acuity.

Commercial Driver Responsibilities: Submission of Medical Reports

Drivers aspiring to obtain a CDL must submit a MER (Medical Examination Report) and a MEC (Medical Examiner’s Certificate). This submission is mandatory during license application and for every 2 years after license-granting.

The MER must bear the sign of an authorized healthcare professional.

The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) reviews all submitted medical reports. The body may ask for a reexamination in certain cases. The DMV qualifies aspirants in different segments (restricted license, conditional license, etc.,) on the basis of the findings.

Commercial Driver Responsibilities: Producing MEC Copy on Demand

Drivers must carry a copy of the MEC issued to them, for a period of 15 days, after such issuance.

The copy must bear the signature of a licensed healthcare professional. Drivers must produce the copy on demand when operating a commercial vehicle. They may not carry the MEC after the elapse of 15 days.