DOT Requirements for CDL Training

The following requirements have been provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation.


To obtain either the standard or enhanced CDL, federal regulations and Michigan law require all drivers who have a Commercial Driver License (CDL) or Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) to provide proof of U.S. Citizenship or Legal Presence in the United States when they apply, correct or renew their next CDL license.

You must be age 21 to drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines (interstate). If you are between the ages of 18 and 21, you will receive a license with a K restriction allowing you to drive a commercial motor vehicle in Michigan only.

Before you can obtain an original CDL, you must qualify for the license based on your driving record. Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a CDL:

  • Inability to make the necessary certifications contained on the CDL Certification Form, found in the Michigan Commercial Driver License Manual
  • Having a license from more than one state
  • A current suspension, revocation, denial, or cancellation of your license
  • Conviction of any six-point violation in the 24 months immediately preceding application
  • Conviction for operating a motor vehicle while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application
  • A suspension or revocation in the 36 months immediately preceding application
  • Suspensions for Failure to Appear in Court (FAC), Failure to Comply with a Judgment (FCJ), failure to appear for re-examination, financial responsibility, non-sufficient funds checks, and a suspension or revocation for a temporary medical condition do not disqualify an applicant for a CDL

Basic DOT Medical Requirements

  • A holder of a CDL must have 20/40 correctable vision in each eye. The key here is correctable vision and that means eye glasses or contact lenses are OK.
  • A CDL driver cannot be a diabetic requiring needle-injected insulin. Diabetes controlled by diet may be permissible.
  • A driver’s blood pressure must be 140 over 90 or less for a 24 month DOT Medical Certificate.

In some instances, a prescription blood pressure drug can be used to control high blood pressure.

  • The blood sugar level must be under 200.
  • The use of a narcotic or any other habit forming drugs will prevent you from passing the DOT physical.
  • A current diagnosis of any cardiovascular disease or cardiac issues may require you to provide additional information from your doctor.

Additional blood pressure standards:

  • 140-159/90-99 – 12 month certificate
  • 160-179/100-109 – 3 month temporary certificate
  • Over 180/110 – DOT disqualifier

DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions

Under FMCSA regulations (49 CFR 391.41), a medical examiner may not certify a driver who has a DOT disqualifying medical condition or uses a medication/substance that compromises the ability to drive safely. DOT disqualifying medical conditions include those that may lead to loss of consciousness or involve inadequate hearing or vision, a compromised nervous system, or physical limitations that interfere with driving ability. Drivers who are able to resolve a DOT disqualifying medical condition are allowed to seek re-certification, and frequently do.

Primary list of DOT disqualifying medical conditions:

  • Certain heart conditions. Examples of heart conditions that are disqualifying until they are resolved and/or clearance is given by a cardiologist include current clinical diagnoses of heart attack, chest pain or discomfort due to heart disease (angina pectoris), reduced blood flow through one or more coronary arteries (coronary insufficiency), or risk of forming a blood clot (thrombosis). Taking nitroglycerine for angina is not necessarily medically disqualifying, provided the angina is stable.
  • Epilepsy or other conditions that can result in loss of consciousness. FMCSA regulations prohibit a person with epilepsy or other seizure disorder from operating a commercial vehicle across state boundaries. Drivers who can show that their seizures are under control may be eligible to submit an application to the FMCSA for a seizure exemption. (See “Seizure Package” at the end of this article.)
  • Inner ear diseases or disorders that cause vertigo (spinning/dizziness) or other balance issues. Meniere’s disease is an example. It affects the inner ear. Many lifestyle aspects of trucking might trigger vertigo for a driver with Meniere’s disease, which is why it is classified as a DOT disqualifying medical condition. Meniere’s disease is unpredictable and its triggers include overwork, fatigue, smoking, and too much salt in the diet. Certain medications for the treatment of vertigo also may be disqualifying if the medical examiner concludes there are potential sedative effects that may compromise safety. On occasion, drivers with certain balance disorders are able to seek re-certification after being symptom-free for a period of time.
  • Diabetes, high blood pressure, and respiratory conditions are discussed in the next section on DOT disqualifying medical conditions where the medical examiner has discretion in deciding whether or not to grant DOT certification.
  • Vision and/or hearing loss. Drivers unable to demonstrate at least 20/40 vision in each eye and both eyes together, with or without corrective lenses, are medically disqualified. However, there is a vision exemption available. A driver must be able to meet peripheral vision requirements and also able to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing the standard red, green, and amber colors. For hearing, two tests may be performed. If the driver passes the first test (forced whisper), then the second test (an audiometry test) is not needed. In the forced whisper test, the driver must be able to hear a forced whisper in one ear (the better ear) at five feet, with or without a hearing aid. If the driver cannot pass the forced whisper test, passing an audiometry test still may allow certification. Failing both tests makes hearing loss a DOT disqualifying medical condition. As with vision and seizure, the driver may apply for an exemption.
  • Use of marijuana. Even if a licensed medical practitioner has prescribed or recommended it, marijuana use is a DOT disqualifying medical condition. This is true whether it is used alone, as CBD oil, or in any product or preparation derived from hemp or cannabis. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) prohibits use of Schedule I substances, which include marijuana, heroin, LSD, mescaline, MDMA (“ecstasy”), psilocybin mushroom, methaqualone (Quaalude), cathinone/khat, and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

Medical Conditions Addressed Using Medical Examiner Discretion

  • Diabetes. Commercial drivers who have insulin-treated diabetes no longer need to apply for an exemption to obtain DOT certification. A new process was finalized in 2018. Now, drivers who have a stable insulin regimen and properly controlled diabetes only need to visit their treating clinician within 45 days prior to seeing the medical examiner. The treating clinician will complete an Insulin-Treated Diabetes Mellitus Assessment Form MCSA-5870 if requirements are met. The driver brings this form, along with three months of electronic glucose records, when visiting the medical examiner. If three months of electronic glucose logs are not available, the medical examiner may certify the driver for up to three months so the records can be collected. The medical examiner reviews all of this information and, if everything is in order, is able to certify the driver for up to one year (rather than the standard two years).
  • High blood pressure. Medical examiners are provided guidelines, but also may use discretion in deciding whether to grant certification. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Up to 121-129/<80, blood pressure is considered elevated, but not classified as high blood pressure or hypertension. When blood pressure exceeds this level, it moves into progressively worse high blood pressure stages:
    • Stage 1 130 to 139 systolic (above line) or 80 to 89 diastolic pressure (under line)
    • Stage 2 140 or higher systolic or 90 or higher diastolic pressure
    • Stage 3 Higher than 180 systolic and/or higher than 120 diastolic pressure.
  • Stage 3 is a hypertensive crisis that requires immediate medical attention. Elevation to Stage 3 is a DOT disqualifying medical condition. When the condition resolves and blood pressure goes down to 140/90, the driver may be certified at six-month intervals. If a driver is able to lower blood pressure, has lost weight, and is off all blood pressure medications, the medical examiner has discretion to grant certification for up to two years. For the other two high blood pressure stages, these recommendations apply:
    • Elevation to Stage 1 may limit certification to one year.
    • Elevation to Stage 2 may result in a three-month certification and, if blood pressure goes below 140/90 within that time, a driver may receive certification for one year.
  • Respiratory conditions. Certain respiratory diseases may be DOT disqualifying medical conditions. The medical examiner can seek further tests and/or send a driver to a pulmonary specialist to gain additional insight into whether a respiratory condition should be disqualifying. If the driver is receiving oxygen therapy, this is disqualifying because of the risk of oxygen equipment malfunction or explosion.
  • Proteinuria. Potentially a DOT disqualifying medical condition, proteinuria or excessive protein in the urine may indicate kidney disease. The medical examiner has the discretion to certify outright, certify with a time limit, or disqualify a driver with proteinuria.

Waivers/Exemptions for DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions

Only a medical examiner in the National Registry can grant DOT certification, but a medical examiner cannot approve a waiver or exemption (which provides a driver relief from a regulation for a period of time). Only the FMCSA can grant a waiver or exemption for certain medical conditions.

Drivers must meet exemption criteria to submit an application and then submit the required information to the FMCSA for consideration. Here are the primary exemption packages, as shown on the FMCSA’s website:

What Felonies Disqualify you From Getting a CDL?

Under the Influence of Alcohol

A CMV driver who drives under the influence of alcohol is mandatorily disqualified. The offense pertains strictly to CMV, not personal vehicles. However, there are instances when such offense is applied to personal vehicles depending on the standard imposed by the State.

Moreover, the 0.04 percent limit is also implemented to disqualify CMV drivers especially if they reach or even exceed the said limit. This is true to any person with CDL, even if the CMV driver is off-duty. It means that the same is applied regardless of the duty status of the driver.

Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

That is why a CMV driver who is found to be under the influence of a controlled substance as provided in the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) or cannabis as provided in the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) shall be disqualified from getting a CDL for a year, as the minimum.

Refusal to Take an Alcohol Test

According to FMCSA, if a driver refuses to submit to an alcohol test, or a drug test, it is assumed that the driver is positive for alcohol or drugs, per se. The driver is then prohibited from performing a safety-sensitive function such as driving a CMV.

Leaving an Accident Scene

Accidents are unexpected, but drivers, especially CMV drivers, are required to literally not leave the scene of the accident in case it will occur. The law, or even conscience, requires drivers to stop, give aid or report to the authority, or notify the family, operator or owner of the other party.

Driving a CMV When not Allowed by Law

A driver is not allowed to drive a CMV if his license was already canceled, suspended, or revoked, much more if he is disqualified by law.

It is worth noting that under the guidance provided by FMCSA, a driver is disqualified to operate a CMV even if he has a valid CDL issued by the State where he resides, but is suspended in other States due to violations of the law, even if it should not be related to a motor vehicle traffic control law.

Negligent Driving of a CMV Resulting in a Fatality

Negligent driving resulting in fatality includes negligent homicide, homicide by motor vehicle, and motor vehicle manslaughter. These are felonies that disqualify you from getting a CDL.

The vehicle used to commit a felony and other felonies involving the manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance

Not all felonies are grounds to disqualify a driver from getting a CDL. But, there are offenses which do not allow a driver to get one, including those above mentioned and other felonies such as arson, bribery, extortion, smuggling, treason, kidnapping, and others as provided by law.

[Updated June 2022]

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