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The Ultimate Guide to DOT Medical Card Compliance
Mariah Barr
7 mins read

Everything you need to know about DOT medical certificates, and then some.

The physical toll of driving any vehicle for a living is often forgotten, but that’s why the DOT medical card exists. It is essential to any federally regulated driver’s qualification file.

Whether you’re wondering, “How do I get a DOT medical card for the first time?” Or you’re not sure how to follow the DOT compliance requirements surrounding medical cards, we’ll answer some of the most pressing questions, starting with the basics.

What is a DOT medical card?

Although it’s commonly referred to as a “medical card,” it’s less of a card and more of a document. The technical name for the document we’re focusing on is the medical examiner’s certificate.

This certificate verifies that a driver is medically safe and qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

How can I get a DOT medical card?

For anyone to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and get a medical card, the Department of Transportation requires them to pass a physical exam, otherwise known as a DOT physical.

The doctor conducting the exam must have completed specific training, passed an exam, and be registered with the FMCSA.

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The physical involves multiple types of examinations, including:

  • Health history
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Blood pressure
  • Urine

If you’d like to learn more about DOT physicals, we’ve explained almost everything that’s involved with them in this article.

Once a driver has passed this physical, he or she is given a medical card.

What is included on a DOT medical card?

A completed medical examiner’s certificate must have the following information:

  • Name, address, signature, and CDL number of the driver who received the DOT physical
  • Name, contact information, medical license number, and signature of the doctor who conducted the DOT physical
  • Official indication of the driver passing the DOT physical, and any exemptions or medical supports required (such as contact lenses or hearing aids) to do so
  • The expiration date of the medical certificate

When do DOT medical cards expire?

Medical examiner certificates can have three potential expiration dates from the day it is issued, depending on the DOT physical results.

  • 24 months – This issuance period is typically given to a driver with a clean bill of health who does not have any medical conditions that could prevent him or her from safely operating a CMV.
  • 12 months – If the driver has a medical condition that needs to be monitored, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or a sleep disorder, a shorter issuance period may be given so the medical examiner can keep an eye on the driver’s health.
  • 3-6 months – A medical examiner may grant a driver a new medical card for only a few months when he or she has a condition they can potentially improve, such as weight. The doctor can then extend the card depending on the results of the re-check.

What do I need to do once I get my DOT medical card?

CDL holders must provide their State Drive Licensing Agency (SDLA) with a copy of their medical examiner’s certificate. Each state has different requirements for submitting it. The FMCSA has detailed instructions for you to follow on a state-by-state basis.

All CLP and CDL drivers must keep the original or a copy of their medical cards when on duty.

Medical Card DOT Compliance for Fleet Managers

If you want to ensure you and your drivers are DOT-compliant with their medical cards (and you should), do the following:

  • Make sure that your entire fleet’s medical cards are valid. If expiration dates are coming up, drivers should have a DOT physical scheduled to avoid a gap in compliance. You never know when they’ll be pulled over for a roadside inspection or you’ll be called on for a DOT audit!
  • Regularly check your driver qualification files to make sure there is a valid medical card on file for you and/or every driver you employ.

Now, you might be thinking this: I’m already busy enough. How am I supposed to remember to check every single one of my drivers' for another expiration date?

The answer is simple: you don’t have to. There’s an easier way to manage your drivers’ DOT medical cards — whether you employ five or 500 drivers — and that’s where Foley comes in.

Our driver file management software, Dash, keeps track of medical card expirations for everyone who gets behind the wheel of your company vehicles.

How does Foley’s driver file management software work?

Let’s say you’re still managing your driver files on paper. This isn’t DOT compliant, and we can guarantee you’ll face some backlash from a DOT officer during an offsite audit, most likely in the form of expensive fines.

Our DOT compliance specialists at Foley will take those paper files, convert them to a digital format, and upload them into individual driver files for each member of your fleet. They’ll then be saved in the Foley platform where they’re safe and secure.

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From there, you’ll receive e-notifications every time a driver’s DOT medical card is about to expire. You’ll have plenty of advance notice to schedule their DOT physical (which we can handle too) and get them a brand-new, DOT-compliant med card for the next two years. It’s really that simple!

Foley takes the guesswork out of managing compliant driver files and the all-too-important medical cards that fall under them.

If you’d like to see our driver file management software at work before signing on the dotted line, sign up for a FREE demo with one of our DOT compliance experts.

Fill out this form and a member of our team will reach out shorty.

Schedule a demo to see Dash in action.
A Foley expert is ready to help your company create a streamlined hiring, screening, and onboarding process that's easier for your candidate and team, while keeping you compliant with DOT and FMCSA requirements. Fill out this form, and we'll schedule a time for a personalized online demo of Dash.

Whether you’re looking for a quick background check, or a comprehensive DOT compliance solution, Foley can help.