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Medical Certifications Change for Commercial Drivers


Posted Date: 
January 17, 2012

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adopted new regulations requiring state drivers licensing agencies to add medical certification status to a drivers CDL records.

New Medical Certification Requirements:  A Guide for Montana Commercial Driver License Holders

What is not changing: All CDL holders must continue to carry their medical examiner's certificate (commonly referred to as a DOT card).

What is changing? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adopted new regulations requiring state driver licensing agencies to add medical certification status and the information on your medical examiner’s certificate (previously referred to as DOT card) to your Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) record.

When does this change start? June 2012 in Montana. Start dates vary from state to state.

Who is affected? Drivers who apply for or renew a Montana CDL after May 31, 2012.

When you go in to apply for or renew a Montana CDL: You must determine the type of business you operate in and certify to that type of commercial operation on your driver license application. Based on that self-certification, you may need to provide a current medical examiner's certificate (MEC) and medical variance, if you have one, to obtain or keep your CDL.

The self-certification categories include:

Interstate non-excepted: You are an interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the federal MEC requirements (i.e., you are "not excepted").

Interstate excepted: You are an interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the federal MEC requirements.

Intrastate non-excepted: All Montana-only (intrastate) drivers are required to meet the medical requirements.  If you are subject to the MEC requirements, you must provide a legible copy of your MEC to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division.

What do I do when my MEC expires?

If you applied for or renewed a Montana CDL between June 1, 2012 and January 29, 2014:

You must provide a copy of your new MEC to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division prior to the expiration of your current certificate. You may do this by: presenting your MEC at a local driver license office; faxing your MEC to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division; or, mailing a legible copy of your MEC to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division.

The Montana Motor Vehicle Division will notify Montana CDL holders who have not renewed or upgraded prior to January 30, 2014, about when and how to submit your self-certification and, if applicable, MEC.

What happens if I do not keep my medical certification status information current with Montana? Drivers will be sent notification prior to the expiration of their MEC and will be given ample time to submit a new MEC. Failure to submit will result in the downgrade of your interstate CDL to a base, Class D license. 2

How to Determine Your Type of Self-Certification:

For the purpose of complying with the new requirements for medical certification, it is important to know how you are using the commercial motor vehicle (CMV). To help you decide, follow these steps:

Step 1: Do you, or will you, use a CDL to operate a CMV in interstate or intrastate commerce?

Interstate commerce is when you drive a CMV:

From one state to another state or a foreign country;
Between two places within a state; but during part of the trip, the CMV crosses into another state or foreign country; or
Between two places within a state; but the cargo is part of a trip that began or will end in another state or foreign country.

Intrastate commerce is when you drive a CMV within a state and you do not meet any of the descriptions above for interstate commerce.

If you operate in both intrastate commerce and interstate commerce, you must choose interstate commerce.

Step 2: Once you decide you operate or will operate in interstate commerce or intrastate commerce, you must decide whether you operate (or expect to operate) in a non-excepted or excepted status. This decision will tell you to which of the three types of commerce you must self-certify.

Interstate Commerce:

Compliant with Montana law, you operate in excepted interstate commerce when you drive a CMV in interstate commerce only for the following excepted activities:

  • As federal, state or local government employees;
  • To transport human corpses or sick or injured persons;
  • Fire truck or rescue vehicle drivers during emergencies and other related activities;
  • Primarily in the transportation of 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;
  • In response to a pipeline emergency condition requiring immediate response, such as a pipeline leak or rupture;
  • 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;
  • Beekeeper in the seasonal transportation of bees;
  • Controlled and operated by a farmer, but is not a combination vehicle (power unit and towed unit), and is used to transport agricultural products, farm machinery or farm supplies (no placarded hazardous materials) to and from a farm and within 150 air-miles of the farm;
  • As a private motor carrier of passengers for nonbusiness purposes; or
  • To transport migrant workers.

If you answered yes to one or more of the above activities as the only operation in which you drive, you operate in excepted interstate commerce and do not need a federal medical examiner’s certificate (MEC).

If you answered no to all of the above activities, you operate in non-excepted interstate commerce and are required to carry and provide a copy of a current MEC (49 CFR 391.45), commonly referred to as a medical certificate or DOT card, to the MT Motor Vehicle Division.

Most CDL holders who drive CMVs in interstate commerce are non-excepted interstate commerce drivers.

If you operate in both excepted interstate commerce and non-excepted interstate commerce, you must choose non-excepted interstate commerce to be qualified to operate in both types of interstate commerce.

Intrastate Commerce:

You operate in non-excepted intrastate commerce when you have a Montana-only CDL. You are required to meet the medical certification requirements.

Step 3: Provide the MT Motor Vehicle Division with your self-certification of your operating status.

If you self-certify to non-excepted interstate or have a Montana-only CDL (non-excepted intrastate), you must carry and provide either an original or a copy of your current MEC as explained.

If your MEC is only valid with a vision, diabetes or a skills performance evaluation variance granted by FMCSA, you will also need to provide that variance document and you must carry this variance with you at all times while operating a CMV.