In some circumstances, drivers who are required to have a DOT medical card can get an exemption for certain conditions. The exemption program is designed for interstate operators who drive commercial motor vehicles. Each exemption has a specific application process and set of requirements.
Diabetes Exemption Program
If you have diabetes, you may get an exemption by first getting a medical examination to ensure you have no other disqualifying conditions, then seeing an endocrinologist and an ophthalmologist or optometrist to check your insulin use and vision, respectively, in order to determine if your condition is stable enough to safely operate a commercial vehicle.
Submit the applicant information checklist, a medical examination report and certificate, the endocrinologist and vision evaluation checklist, and a copy of your driver's license and driving record to apply for the exemption. Send the application and original documentation by mail to the following address:
Federal Diabetes Exemption Program 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Room W64-224 Washington, D.C. 20590
Diabetes Exemption Decision
After the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, determines that you are eligible for an exemption, it publishes the request in the Federal Register, giving the public 30 days to comment on the request and giving notice of the final decision. You are then notified of the final decision and, if denied, the reasons why you did not qualify.
Continuing Diabetes Evaluations
As a condition of the diabetes exemption, you are required to undergo quarterly and annual examinations by an endocrinologist. The doctor completes an examination and checklist to verify that your condition has not worsened and that you still meet the requirements for the exemption.
Vision Exemption Program
If you currently drive a commercial motor vehicle with a valid license or intrastate CDL and can prove that you successfully drove with the vision condition for the prior three years, you may qualify for the vision exemption. The exemption only applies if you meet all the other requirements for a DOT medical card.
Additional documentation includes a copy of your driving record and a statement from an ophthalmologist or optometrist certifying that your vision is sufficient to operate a commercial vehicle.
If you live in Florida, submit a current and complete official copy of your driving record. If you live in Indiana, contact the state police and submit reports from any crashes or a statement that you were not involved in any crashes.
Send the application and supporting material to the following address:
Vision Program 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Room W64-224 Washington, D.C. 20590
If the exemption is granted, it is valid for two years and is renewed at the discretion of the FMCSA.
Skill Performance Evaluation
If you are missing a limb, you may still qualify for a medical card with a Skill Performance Evaluation, or SPE, certificate. You must be fitted with a prosthetic and pass a driving test that demonstrates both on- and off-road skills. Once you pass the test, submit a completed certificate application to your regional SPE service center with a copy of your medical examination report and driving record from the past three years.