Employers with drivers holding Commercial Drivers Licenses should plan for important changes to the Department of Transportation’s medical certification rules which take effect January 30. Beginning next year, the motor carrier must have in the driver’s qualification file a copy of any initial or renewal DOT medical certification within 15 calendar days of the certification date. Failure to have this certificate in place by this time period disqualifies that employee from driving a commercial motor vehicle. Employers that allow drivers without the certification copy to continue to drive will be subject to fines and possible safety classification downgrades if this is discovered during the course of a DOT compliance audit.
Affected employers should take steps now to confirm compliance with this new requirement. CDL drivers should be required to immediately provide a copy of the certification to the employer as soon as they receive it, and to immediately provide a copy to their state of residence DMV under rules and processes adopted by that state. The employer should immediately place a copy of the medical certification into that driver’s qualification file to make sure there are no gaps in qualification to drive. The state DMV will post the certification information on the national CDL Information System (CDLIS), but in many cases, this posting may not be made within the 15-day grace period. By independently requiring the driver to directly provide the certification, employers can avoid situations where they depend on CDLIS for a timely copy of the records.