Changes for Driver Medical Card Physicals

Same Test, New Doctor

Beginning Wednesday, May 21, 2014 medical exams for commercial drivers must be performed by registered medical examiners. Longstanding state and federal regulations require certain commercial drivers to obtain certifications from medical professionals affirming that they are qualified to operate vehicles. In Minnesota, drivers that are covered by the regulations must carry medical cards. But under new federal rules, drivers can no longer simply go to their family doctor for certification.

The federal rules will soon restrict who can perform the required exam. As of May 21, only health care workers who are members of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners will be allowed to offer federal medical certifications. In order to be registered, medical practitioners must meet specific training and testing requirements laid out by the federal government, so it’s likely that many doctors won’t go through the trouble of getting certified.

It doesn’t look like the new guidelines will be too burdensome for businesses and drivers, however. If your current doctor is not certified, you can find a registered medical professional by searching the national registry’s online directory for examiners in your area. Just go to: nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov

Who Needs a Medical Card?

It is important to remember that even drivers who are not required to get commercial licenses may be required to carry a medical card. In Minnesota, drivers must carry medical cards if they are driving:

  1. a commercial vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds;
  2. eight or more people for pay;
  3. fifteen or more people, regardless of whether it’s for pay; or,
  4. a vehicle carrying hazardous material.

Once a driver passes the exam, the certificate typically lasts for two years. Drivers that have passed the exam in the last two years are not required to get reexamined early under the new guidelines.

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