Frequently Asked Questions About Your CDL

This page contains the nine most frequently asked questions regarding the new CDL requirements.

What are the new medical examiner's certificate procedure and CDL driver self certification process?

New regulations require all commercial driver license (CDL) holders who operate a commercial vehicle for interstate commerce to keep a copy of their current medical examiner’s certificate on file with the Department of Licensing (DOL) starting January 30, 2012. CDL holders who do not drive a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce, also known as intrastate drivers, still have to comply with all state and federal medical examiner’s certificate requirements, but do not have to keep a copy of the certificate on file with the Department.

To determine who is responsible for keeping a current medical certificate on file with DOL, all CDL holders are required to declare their status as interstate or intrastate operators by Submitting a CDL Self Certification form to DOL through a procedure called “self certification.” All CDL holders must self certify in person by January 30, 2014.

During this process, a commercial driver will report to DOL if they operate a commercial vehicle that is connected in any way to interstate commerce. The key point to keep in mind is that even commercial drivers who only drive within Washington State may be engaged in interstate commerce that would require them to certify themselves as an interstate driver.

When self certifying, CDL holders will have to choose from four categories of commercial motor vehicle operation. Only those certifying as a non-excepted interstate driver will be required to have a medical certificate on file with DOL. Interstate commercial drivers also are still required by state law to carry a valid medical certification with them when operating a commercial vehicle.

Who should certify as an interstate commercial driver?

A non-excepted interstate driver(submit medical certificate to DOL):

  • Crosses state lines while operating a commercial vehicle
  • Transports cargo that originates outside Washington State or has a final destination outside Washington State
  • Delivers cargo to Washington State ports
  • Examples include:
    • School bus drivers to carry passengers across state lines to events
    • Truck drivers who deliver goods across state lines
    • Drivers who deliver goods, including logs, to ports in Washington
  • An excepted interstate driver(don’t submit medical certificate to DOL):
    • School bus drivers who cross state lines while transporting students to and from school
    • Drivers occasionally transporting personal property not for compensation
    • Drivers of government vehicles and emergency response vehicles, or the transport of sick or injured persons or human corpses
    • Drivers transporting emergency deliveries of propane or home heating oil
    • Drivers for transit organizations that are owned and operated by a state or a political subdivision of the state (government employee)

Who should certify as an interstate driver

A non-excepted or excepted intrastate driver (don’t submit a medical certificate to DOL):

  • Does not cross state lines while operating a commercial vehicle
  • The origin and final destination of the driver’s cargo are always within Washington State.
  • Examples include:
    • School bus drivers who only transport passengers within Washington
      • Truck drivers who deliver goods that originate in Washington to Washington addresses

When do I complete the self-certification form?

Individuals applying for their first CDL will certify their status as part of that process. Individuals who already have a CDL will have to visit a Washington State driver licensing office and fill out a self certification form between January 30, 2012 and the deadline of January 30, 2014. CDL holders who have a driver license that expires before the deadline can complete the self certification form when they renew their license. Individuals with driver licenses expiring after this date will have to visit a driver licensing office sometime before the deadline. DOL will send notifications to these drivers to remind them to come in.

Will I have to visit a driver licensing office to submit every new medical certificate I get?

Yes. Commercial drivers who self certify as interstate drivers have to keep a current copy of their medical certificate on file with DOL.

What if I plan to drive commercially, but I don't know what type of driving I will be doing?

The safest course of action is to certify as a non-excepted interstate driver and submit a medical certificate to DOL as required. This will provide the greatest level of flexibility and ensure you are always ready to accept jobs that require driving across state lines.

What will happen if a CDL holder doesn't submit a self-certification form

If a CDL holder fails to self certify, their CDL status will be changed to “not certified.” A driver with this status cannot legally operate a commercial vehicle. A CDL holder can have their status returned to normal by submitting the required self-certification form and, if required, a copy of their medical certificate.

I'm not an active commercial driver. Can I retain my CDL without keeping my medical

If you want to retain your CDL, you must self certify. If you do not plan to operate a commercial vehicle and you do not have, or plan to get, a current medical certificate, self certifying as an intrastate driver may be a good option. However, you have to remember to make sure you are complying with all applicable medical certificate requirements if you do decide to operate a commercial vehicle, and you have to change this self certification and submit a current medical certificate if you want to return to operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce.

Is this a state requirement or a federal requirement?

It’s both. These new licensing standards were created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (CFR 383.71 and 383.73) and apply to CDL holders nationwide. All states are required to adopt these new standards. The Washington State Legislature adopted these standards as state law in 2011 (as amended by HB12290f2011).