Once you allow your DOT medical card to expire in Texas, your CDL becomes invalid and although you can still drive a car, you will no longer be permitted to drive a commercial vehicle. Drivers in Texas are mandated to keep a valid medical variance or medical examiner’s certificate on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety, and failure to do so will result in the downgrade of the individual’s CDL.
To avoid your commercial driver’s license from being downgraded, it is imperative you send a copy of your new DOT medical certificate to the Department within 15 days of the certificate issuance date. You need a DOT medical card if you are a commercial driver who hauls or drives from one state to another, which is known as interstate driving.
If you only drive within Texas and have no need to pass through another state at any point, you are considered an intrastate driver and you may not require a medical card.
The Texas Department of Public Safety will ask that you certify the exact type of driving you do. And if it is necessary, you have to provide a copy of each new DOT medical card to the Department prior to the expiration of the current DOT medical card.
If you are not so sure whether you require a medical card or a medical card renewal, it is imperative you reach out to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Also, note that Texas does not have an expired DOT medical card fine. If the certificate expires, you may have to re-sit or reinstate your license and there may be associated costs for that process.
Once you pass your medical exam and file it with the Texas Department of Public Safety, you should keep the original copy with you for at least 10 days whenever you drive. After that, you are not mandated to carry your certificate, but you may want to do so just to be on the safe side.
How to Renew Your DOT Medical Card in Texas
Whether you’re getting a CDL medical card renewal or your first one, you will more or less have to follow the same procedure. These procedures include;
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Understand Renewal Guidelines
Drivers in Texas who scale through their physicals and receive their DOT medical cards are expected to renew this credential every 24 months. Meanwhile, commercial drivers who have documented health conditions that won’t impede their performance may be expected to renew every 12 months, with periodic health assessments to validate that any recorded conditions remain minimal.
Some of the conditions that would warrant renewal every 12 months may include high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea, depending on the severity and impact these conditions have on the commercial driver.
Contact an Approved Medical Provider
To renew your DOT medical card, note that the DOT mandates drivers to complete their physical exams via a government-approved provider. Interstate drivers will have to complete their physicals with FMCSA-certified medical examiners (CMEs), while intrastate drivers will complete their physicals with providers approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Take your DOT Physical Examination
When you know which CMEs you can complete your physical with, consider finding a provider local to you. When you arrive at your appointment, make sure you are adequately prepared for a thorough medical exam. First and foremost, you have to complete the driver’s section of the Medical Examination Report Form.
This form wants to know whether you have ever had surgery and for you to provide details if you have. Next, the form will want to know if you are taking any medications, such as herbal remedies and over-the-counter medications. If you are taking any prescription or other medications, you should outline them on the form.
The next section will mainly seek to know if you’ve had medical conditions such as mental health issues, head or brain injuries, seizures or epilepsy, high blood pressure, and eye or ear problems. Once you are done with this section, you will also be requested to disclose if you’ve had any other health conditions that weren’t listed.
If the answer is “yes”, you have to make available vivid details about your answer. The remainder of the form will be completed by your medical examiner. The examiner will evaluate your health history, and check your blood pressure, vision, and hearing. The examiner will also complete a urinalysis.
This urinalysis doesn’t specifically check for drugs, it will check for protein, blood, and sugar, which could indicate an underlying medical condition if present. The examiner will also do a physical examination, checking your gait, skin, eyes, reflexes, and more.
DOT Examination Results
After you must have completed your examination, the examiner will decide on one of the numerous options for your results. If you are successful, they will check if you have met all the standards for a two-year certificate or that you meet the standards but require periodic evaluation. If you don’t pass, the examiner may select “does not meet standards.”
Most often, the examiner may decide on “determination pending” or “incomplete examination.” However, for all the options other than “meets standards for a two-year certificate,” the examiner will be expected to explain their reason for making that selection.
Submit Your DOT Medical Card
You have to send a copy of your new DOT medical certificate to the Texas Department of Public Safety within 15 days of the DOT medical certificate issuance date. You should also keep the original copy with you for at least 10 days whenever you drive.
After that, you are not mandated to carry your certificate, but you may do so just to be on the safe side. The Texas Department of Public Safety can allow you to check the status of your medical certificate to establish that it is valid on your driving record.
It is very important to renew your DOT medical card before it expires. Most medical examiners will ask that you come with certain documents when you go in for your physical. For example, you may be expected to come with your commercial learner permit or license and any documents the DMV requires to verify your information.
Aside from that, you also need to have a completed DOT medical certification form. If you have any underlying medications or certain health conditions that may influence your status, then it is necessary you discuss these with the medical provider.