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49 CFR 391.41 - CDL FMCSA Medical Certificate Requirements
49 CFR 391.41 - FMCSA Physical qualifications for CDL drivers. Detailed minimum medical requirements.
Jump to 49 CFR 391.41 - Physical qualifications
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QUALIFICATIONS OF DRIVERS AND LONGER COMBINATION VEHICLE (LCV) DRIVER INSTRUCTORS
Question 1: Who is responsible for ensuring that medical certifications meet the requirements?
Medical certification determinations are the responsibility of the medical examiner. The motor carrier has the responsibility to ensure that the medical examiner is informed of the minimum medical requirements and the characteristics of the work to be performed. The motor carrier is also responsible for ensuring that only medically qualified drivers are operating CMVs in interstate commerce.
Question 2: Do the physical qualification requirements of the FMCSRs infringe upon a person's religious beliefs if such beliefs prohibit being examined by a licensed doctor of medicine or osteopathy?
No. To determine whether a governmental regulation infringes on a person's right to freely practice his religion, the interest served by the regulation must be balanced against the degree to which a person's rights are adversely affected. Biklen v. Board of Education, 333 F. Supp. 902 (N.D.N.Y. 1971) aff'd 406 U.S. 951 (1972). If there is an important objective being promoted by the requirement and the restriction on religious freedom is reasonably adapted to achieving that objective, the requirement should be upheld. Burgin v. Henderson, 536 F.2d 501 (2d. Cir. 1976). Based on the tests developed by the courts and the important objective served, the regulation meets Constitutional standards. It does not deny a driver his First Amendment rights.
Question 3: What are the physical qualification requirements for operating a CMV in interstate commerce?
The physical qualification regulations for drivers in interstate commerce are found at 391.41. Instructions to medical examiners performing physical examinations of these drivers are found at 391.43. Interpretive guidelines are distributed upon request. The qualification standards cover 13 areas which directly relate to the driving function. All but four of the standards require a judgment by the medical examiner. A person's qualification to drive is determined by a medical examiner who is knowledgeable about the driver's functions and whether a particular condition would interfere with the driver's ability to operate a CMV safely. In the case of vision, hearing, insulin-using diabetes, and epilepsy, the current standards are absolute, providing no discretion to the medical examiner.
Question 4: Is a driver who is taking prescription methadone qualified to drive a CMV in interstate commerce?
Methadone is a habit-forming narcotic which can produce drug dependence and is not an allowable drug for operators of CMVs.
Question 5: May the medical examiner restrict a driver's duties?
The only conditions a medical examiner may impose upon a driver otherwise qualified involve the use of corrective lenses or hearing aids, securement of a waiver or limitation of driving to exempt intra city zones (see 391.43(g)). A medical examiner who believes a driver has a condition not specified in 391.41 that would affect his ability to operate a CMV safely should refuse to sign the examiner's certificate.
Question 6: If an interstate driver tests positive for alcohol or controlled substances under part 382, must the driver be medically re-examined and obtain a new medical examiner's certificate to drive again?
The driver is not required to be medically re-examined or to obtain a new medical examiner's certificate provided the driver is seen by an SAP who evaluates the driver, does not make a clinical diagnosis of alcoholism, and provides the driver with documentation allowing the driver to return to work. However, if the SAP determines that alcoholism exists, the driver is not qualified to drive a CMV in interstate commerce. The ultimate responsibility rests with the motor carrier to ensure the driver is medically qualified and to determine whether a new medical examination should be completed.
Question 7: Are drivers prohibited from using CB radios and earphones?
No. CB radios and earphones are not prohibited under the regulations, as long as they do not distract the driver and the driver is capable of complying with 391.41(b)(11).
Question 8: Is the use of coumadin, an anticoagulant, an automatic disqualification for drivers operating CMVs in interstate commerce?
No. Although the FHWA 1987 "Conference on Cardiac Disorders and Commercial Drivers" recommended that drivers who are taking anticoagulants not be allowed to drive, the agency has not adopted a rule to that effect. The medical examiner and treating specialist may, but are not required to, accept the Conference recommendations. Therefore, the use of coumadin is not an automatic disqualification, but a factor to be considered in determining the driver's physical qualification status.
49 CFR 391.41: Physical qualifications for drivers.
(a)(1)(i) A person subject to this part must not operate a commercial motor vehicle unless he or she is medically certified as physically qualified to do so, and, except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, when on-duty has on his or her person the original, or a copy, of a current medical examiner's certificate that he or she is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle. NOTE: Effective December 29, 1991, the FMCSA Administrator determined that the new Licencia Federal de Conductor issued by the United Mexican States is recognized as proof of medical fitness to drive a CMV. The United States and Canada entered into a Reciprocity Agreement, effective March 30, 1999, recognizing that a Canadian commercial driver's license is proof of medical fitness to drive a CMV. Therefore, Canadian and Mexican CMV drivers are not required to have in their possession a medical examiner's certificate if the driver has been issued, and possesses, a valid commercial driver license issued by the United Mexican States, or a Canadian Province or Territory and whose license and medical status, including any waiver or exemption, can be electronically verified. Drivers from any of the countries who have received a medical authorization that deviates from the mutually accepted compatible medical standards of the resident country are not qualified to drive a CMV in the other countries. For example, Canadian drivers who do not meet the medical fitness provisions of the Canadian National Safety Code for Motor Carriers, but are issued a waiver by one of the Canadian Provinces or Territories, are not qualified to drive a CMV in the United States. In addition, U.S. drivers who received a medical variance from FMCSA are not qualified to drive a CMV in Canada. (ii) A person who qualifies for the medical examiner's certificate by virtue of having obtained a medical variance from FMCSA, in the form of an exemption letter or a skill performance evaluation certificate, must have on his or her person a copy of the variance documentation when on-duty. (2) CDL/CLP exception. (i) Beginning January 30, 2015, a driver required to have a commercial driver's license under part 383 of this chapter, and who submitted a current medical examiner's certificate to the State in accordance with 383.71(h) of this chapter documenting that he or she meets the physical qualification requirements of this part, no longer needs to carry on his or her person the medical examiner's certificate specified at 391.43(h), or a copy for more than 15 days after the date it was issued as valid proof of medical certification. (ii) Beginning July 8, 2015, a driver required to have a commercial learner's permit under part 383 of this chapter, and who submitted a current medical examiner's certificate to the State in accordance with 383.71(h) of this chapter documenting that he or she meets the physical qualification requirements of this part, no longer needs to carry on his or her person the medical examiner's certificate specified at 391.43(h), or a copy for more than 15 days after the date it was issued as valid proof of medical certification. (iii) A CDL or CLP holder required by 383.71(h) of this chapter to obtain a medical examiner's certificate, who obtained such by virtue of having obtained a medical variance from FMCSA, must continue to have in his or her possession the original or copy of that medical variance documentation at all times when on-duty. (3) A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if: (i) That person meets the physical qualification standards in paragraph (b) of this section and has complied with the medical examination requirements in 391.43; or (ii) That person obtained from FMCSA a medical variance from the physical qualification standards in paragraph (b) of this section and has complied with the medical examination requirement in 391.43. (b) A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person - (1) Has no loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm, or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate pursuant to 391.49; (2) Has no impairment of: (i) A hand or finger which interferes with prehension or power grasping; or (ii) An arm, foot, or leg which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor vehicle; or any other significant limb defect or limitation which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor vehicle; or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate pursuant to 391.49. (3) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control; (4) Has no current clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, coronary insufficiency, thrombosis, or any other cardiovascular disease of a variety known to be accompanied by syncope, dyspnea, collapse, or congestive cardiac failure. (5) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely; (6) Has no current clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure likely to interfere with his/her ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely; (7) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular, or vascular disease which interferes with his/her ability to control and operate a commercial motor vehicle safely; (8) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition which is likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a commercial motor vehicle; (9) Has no mental, nervous, organic, or functional disease or psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with his/her ability to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely; (10) Has distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses, distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal Meridian in each eye, and the ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber; (11) First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or, if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to American National Standard (formerly ASA Standard) Z24.5-1951. (12)(i) Does not use any drug or substance identified in 21 CFR 1308.11 Schedule I, an amphetamine, a narcotic, or other habit-forming drug. (ii) Does not use any non-Schedule I drug or substance that is identified in the other Schedules in 21 part 1308 except when the use is prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner, as defined in 382.107, who is familiar with the driver's medical history and has advised the driver that the substance will not adversely affect the driver's ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. (13) Has no current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism. Citation: [35 FR 6460, Apr. 22, 1970, as amended at 35 FR 17420, Nov. 13, 1970; 36 FR 223, Jan. 7, 1971; 36 FR 12857, July 8, 1971; 43 FR 56900, Dec. 5, 1978; 55 FR 3554, Feb. 1, 1990; 60 FR 38744, July 28, 1995; 62 FR 37152, July 11, 1997; 65 FR 59369, Oct. 5, 2000; 67 FR 61824, Oct. 2, 2002; 73 FR 73127, Dec. 1, 2008, 75 FR 28502, May 21, 2010; 76 FR 70663, Nov. 15, 2011; 77 FR 4483, Jan. 30, 2012; 79 FR 2380, Jan. 14, 2014] Disclaimer: Although we make every effort to assure that the information we provide is complete and accurate, it is not intended to take the place of published agency regulations. Regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation and its Operating Administrations are published in the Federal Register and compiled in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Copies of appropriate volumes of the CFR in book format may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, or examined at many libraries. The CFR may also be viewed online at http://ECFR.gpoaccess.gov.
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