IFB transportation expert breaks down farmer exemptions to the truck driver medical card

When is a medical card required? When are farmers exempt?

Illinois Farm Bureau Assistant Director of Transportation and Local Government Kirby Wagner has answers on medical card requirements for truckers and transportation officials. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

By Kirby Wagner

Federal law (and Illinois law) generally starts from the premise that virtually everyone who drives a truck or a truck-trailer combination of 10,001 pounds or more in commerce are subject to the medical card requirement.

In that instance, commerce includes farming. So, farmers can be required to have a medical card.

Those who drive a placarded vehicle designed to transport 15 or more passengers, including the driver – eight or more if for-hire – are also required to have a medical card.

Meeting one of those conditions requires a driver to undergo a Department of Transportation physical every two years. If the driver passes the physical, he or she receives a medical card indicating they are physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

That medical card must be carried with the driver unless they are registered in the federal electronic database known as the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS).

Related: Drivers test: Which license do you need to operate your semi? Read more here.

Drivers operating in interstate commerce and required to have a medical card will have their information entered in CDLIS. The CDLIS system links the driver’s license and the medical card.

All other drivers required to have a medical card must keep their card with them while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Some drivers may be required to have a physical more than every two years. High blood pressure is one condition that generally causes the physical to be required more than every two years.

Qualifying as a covered farm vehicle (CFV) is one exception. Drivers operating a CFV are exempt from the requirements to have a medical card.

Related: Setting the record straight on Covered Farm Vehicle exemptionRead more here.

Qualifying as a farm vehicle driver (FVD) is another exemption from the medical card. However, that exemption only applies to those FVDs operating straight trucks.  

As always with farmer exemptions, qualifying and maintaining qualification allows access to exemptions. When a driver does not qualify, the exemption goes away and the driver is subject to the regulation

Video: Wagner responds to a licensing question submitted by one of our readers.

Have a trucking or transportation-related question or questions? If so, email us at ViewFromTheRoad@ilfb.organd we’ll do our best to answer each one.