Since the NRCME took effect on May 21, 2014, many drivers have encountered a variety of problems. Until these issues are resolved, it’s advised that you prepare ahead for your DOT physical. Being an informed consumer ensures the best chance for a good outcome. Otherwise your CDL may be at risk.
Allow ample time before your physical expires. In worse cases, drivers have been told they must have unplanned testing completed and follow-up treatment before a doctor will issue or renew the medical card. Periods of 30 days or longer are common for this.
Similar to documentation requirements for insurance and registration in your truck, if you have received treatment for a medical condition/are on medication/are using a CPAP…etc bring documentation related to any conditions you are being treated for.
Day of the exam
Relax! You are prepared. Get a good night’s rest the night before. A very concise article with tips for preparing can be found here.
If you have any reason to suspect that you might encounter a problem passing the physical, the time to take care of that is well before the exam. Taking a chance on passing or not means taking a chance on possibly losing your medical certification and that means losing income. It could take 30, 60, or more days to get a problem fixed before you can resume driving. Avoid that problem by investing in a visit to your personal physician, preferably a physician who is on the NRCME so they will be familiar with the requirements you must meet. Your visits with your personal physician are not reported to the FMCSA (even if the physician is on the NRCME). Any problems you may have can be corrected before you get the DOT physical from another physician. If you need it, view that extra visit as a very worthwhile insurance plan to protect your CDL.
Make a call to learn how much the ME charges. It might be under $100 or more than $300.
Knowledge is power!
The link below will take you to the 13 basic requirements in regulation which a driver must meet to be medically qualified. If a CME tells you that you cannot pass the exam, politely ask which one of these regulations you are not meeting. The list is very simple and short and begins at about the half-way point of the page.
2nd opinion is Okay – Lying is not
While it will not be free, a second opinion may save your CDL. If you feel a CME is being fraudulent/incompetent/or is just plain wrong, you may get a second opinion (or third), just do not lie or mislead. Here is a brief interview with the FMCSA Director of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety Standards regarding a 2nd opinion. http://www.landlinenow.com/Podcast/item.aspx?podcast=1241The following article about a 2nd opinion also references the interview with the FMCSA Director of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety Standards. http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=27988
Example of what is permitted:
A driver goes to doctor A. The doctor refuses certification for some reason based on the doctor’s judgment. The driver believes this is not correct and goes to doctor B for a second opinion. Doctor B finds no reason to refuse certification based on the doctor’s judgment. This driver is correctly certified for the time indicated by doctor B.
Example of what is illegal – (“doctor shopping”)
Driver goes to doctor A. Driver either tells the doctor about a condition the driver has which is disqualifying, or the doctor determines the driver has a condition which is disqualifying. The driver then goes to doctor B. At doctor B the driver lies about the driver’s medical status by not disclosing the known medical condition. This can happen by not honestly filling out the form or by lying to doctor B when asked about the condition. This example is illegal and not advisable.
Do NOT lie!
When a driver goes to more than one medical examiner, this shows up in the certified medical examiner database. It will be reviewed. If the driver gave the same information to both examiners it is not a problem and the most recent exam will be the drivers current status. If the information the driver provided is not consistent this will be followed up on and if found to be dishonest can result in disqualification.