Can you use a driver in a ‘pending’ medical status

Five years after its implementation, many motor carriers are still left wondering whether a driver is qualified to operate their commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) when placed in a pending status.

Motor carriers need to know the rules behind the status, the driver’s most recent physical exam date, and the expiration date on his or her previous med card. These dates are important. Without them, a company runs the risk of using a medically unqualified driver.

What is a pending status for CMV Drivers?

Medical examiners (MEs) can buy time before making a medical determination by putting a CMV driver in a pending status.

During this interim, the exam is on hold with no official result. The driver can be placed in a pending status up to 45 days in order to gather additional medical data, such as:

  • Medical records from a family physician,
  • The results of diagnostic testing requested by the ME, and/or
  • Proof of well-tolerated or successful treatment.

However, the driver is only medically qualified during the pending status provided there is still time left on the previous medical card. In other words, the driver is using up any remaining time on his or her prior certification.

The driver is qualified until:

  • A decision is made on the new exam,
  • The pending status expires (without a determination), or
  • The prior medical card expires,

whichever occurs first.

In 2019, the fifth most common roadside inspection violation for drivers was operating a property-carrying vehicle without possessing a valid medical certificate (§391.41).

The following outlines the variables that determine if your driver may be assigned to a CMV.

Motor Carriers Pending Status

About the author
Kathy Close - Transportation Editor

Kathy provides regulatory support for a variety of products; her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification, and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement model.

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