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Regulatory Developments - News From NEFI Washington, D.C.

Report by Mark S. Morgan, Esq., NEFI Regulatory Counsel (markmorgan@verizon.net)

COMPLIANCE REMINDER: CERTIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS LISTED ON FMCSA NATIONAL REGISTRY MUST BE USED FOR DRIVER MEDICAL QUALIFICATION EXAMS

CDL DRIVER RULE RESTRICTS CHOICE OF MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL FOR DRIVER PHYSICALS

In 2014, The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry) responsible for conducting driver physical exams for CDL licensure. The rule requires all medical professionals who conduct physical examinations necessary for CDL licensure to be listed on the National Registry. In order to be listed on the National Registry, medical professionals must earn certification by completing training and testing in FMCSA's physical qualification standards for drivers. Most private practice doctors are not expected to undergo the required testing, training and certification. As a result, many drivers who have relied on family doctors to provide CDL medical qualification certificates will be required under the rule to select a medical professional listed on the National Registry. Typically, such medical professionals are private clinics specializing in DOT compliance services. These providers are more stringent in the interpretation of FMCSA physical qualification requirements. As a result, it may prove harder for drivers to become recertified in some cases. The FMCSA said the rule is necessary to prevent medical professionals with no knowledge of FMCSA rules from "rubber stamping" driver medical certificates. The rule was mandated by Congress under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 (49 U.S.C. 31149).

COMPLIANCE DEADLINE: May 21, 2014.

DRIVER RESPONSIBILITY: On or after May 21, 2014, CDL drivers seeking a medical certificate necessary to obtain or renew a CDL license must undergo a physical examination by a medical professional listed on the FMCSA National Registry. Drivers with unexpired medical certificates on May 21, 2014 are NOT required to obtain a medical certificate from a medical professional listed on the National Registry until their current certificate expires. After January 1, 2015, interstate CDL drivers are no longer required to carry medical cards in their possession. Intrastate drivers should check with their state licensing authority to determine whether medical cards must continue to be carried in their possession under state regulation.

MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY: Qualified medical professionals are required to provide copies of medical certificates to drivers and to state licensing authorities. Medical professionals are not required to provide medical certificates to drivers' employers.

INTERSTATE DRIVERS AND INTRASTATE DRIVERS: While the FMCSA rule applies to interstate drivers only, most states adopt FMCSA regulations to cover intrastate drivers as well, because failure to do so would result in the loss of federal transportation funding.

EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITIES: Employers have very limited responsibilities under the rule. For medical certificates issued on or after May 21, 2014, employers must obtain an original or copy of the medical certificate from the driver or medical professional, along with verification that the certificate was completed by a medical professional listed on the National Registry. Both the medical certificate and the verification must be kept in the driver's qualification file. Verification may be as simple as a note placed in the driver qualification file by the marketer, indicating that the certificate was issued by a medical professional listed on the National Registry. Employers may use the online look-up feature on the National Registry to make verification. There is nothing under the FMCSA rule that requires medical professionals to provide driver medical certificates to employers. Employers may obtain the certificate from the driver, or from the medical professional with the driver's written consent.

NATIONAL REGISTRY: Medical professionals listed on the FMCSA's National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners can be searched by locality and ZIP Code on an interactive map at: https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov/NRPublicUI/home.seam.

Got Questions? Contact NEFI Regulatory Counsel Mark S. Morgan at mark@nefi.com