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FMCSA Ends Exemption Program for Diabetic Drivers
3 mins read

OCTOBER 2, 2018 – Drivers with insulin-controlled diabetes got some good news last month: they won’t need to go through the biannual exemption application process to continue operating a commercial motor vehicle. As long as their disease is well controlled through medication – and they have the data to prove it – they’ll be eligible to receive a medical certificate that is valid for 12 months.

This new process will streamline what has been a time-consuming (and costly) process for both drivers, their physicians and the FMCSA. Since 2003, insulin-dependent drivers who wanted to operate a CMV in interstate commerce had to apply for an exemption. The administration would then publish the request in the Federal Register to give the public an opportunity to comment on the exemption request before making their decision and publishing a final rule on the matter.

“This final action delivers economic savings to affected drivers and our agency, and streamlines processes by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and redundancy,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.  “It’s a win-win for all parties involved.”

As noted in the Final Rule, the agency expects to save more than $1 million a year over the next three years because of the process.

How the New Process will Work

Starting in November, drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus (ITDM) can complete the following steps to get their 12-month medical card:

  • Supply their treating physician with at least three months of blood glucose self-monitoring records
  • Have their physician complete an ITDM Assessment form that states they’re healthy enough to operate a CMV
  • Schedule an appointment for a DOT physical. Drivers will need to provide the medical examiner with the assessment form
  • As long as the rest of the appointment goes well, and the examiner doesn’t catch any other health issues that may compromise the driver’s ability to operate a CMV safely, a medical card will be granted

This process will need to be repeated every 12 months for as long as the driver continues driving in interstate commerce. If they don’t have three months of self-reporting data, they can get a three-month certificate until the data is available. It’s important to note that the certificate can be temporarily revoked if the driver has a severe hypoglycemic episode. This is defined as one “requiring the assistance of others, or resulting in loss of consciousness, seizure, or coma.”

The FMCSA has been working on this ruling since May 2015 when a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register. If you’d like to read the final rule, you’ll find it here.

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