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Understanding DOT Medical Card Requirements in Tennessee: Who Needs One?

In the bustling world of transportation and logistics, safety is paramount. Ensuring the well-being of drivers and everyone sharing the roads is a top priority. One integral aspect of this safety protocol is the DOT (Department of Transportation) medical card. Specifically, in Tennessee, understanding who needs this card and why is crucial for drivers and fleet managers alike.

What is a DOT Medical Card?

A DOT medical card, officially known as a Medical Examiner’s Certificate, is a requirement for certain commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. It serves as proof that the driver meets the physical qualifications outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This certification confirms that the driver is physically fit to safely operate a commercial vehicle.

Who Needs a DOT Medical Card in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, the requirement for a DOT medical card aligns with federal regulations set by the FMCSA. Generally, drivers operating vehicles meeting any of the following criteria need a DOT medical card:

Vehicle Weight:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 10,001 pounds: Drivers operating vehicles or combinations of vehicles above this weight limit are mandated to hold a valid DOT medical card.

Passenger Capacity:

  • Transporting for Compensation: If a driver is transporting more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation, a DOT medical card is required.

  • Transporting Without Compensation: Drivers transporting more than 15 passengers (without compensation) need the medical card to comply with regulations.

Hazardous Materials:

  • Transporting Hazardous Materials: Any driver involved in transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding is mandated to possess a DOT medical card.

Commercial Vehicle Drivers:

  • Commercial Vehicles: Any driver of a commercial vehicle which does not meet the above criteria, while they are not required to have a CDL endorsement on their license also must have a medical card. As an example, this covers drivers such as tree services and electricians.

Why is it Necessary?

The DOT medical card ensures that drivers are in sound physical condition to handle the demands of driving commercial vehicles. The medical examination conducted for the card evaluates various health aspects, including vision, hearing, blood pressure, and other health conditions that might affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a CMV.

Obtaining a DOT Medical Card:

To acquire a DOT medical card in Tennessee, drivers must undergo a physical examination conducted by a certified medical examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The examination assesses various health parameters, and upon passing, the medical examiner provides the driver with the necessary certification.


Understanding the necessity of a DOT medical card in Tennessee is crucial for compliance and ensuring safety on the roads. Drivers and fleet managers must stay updated with the current regulations set by the FMCSA and the Tennessee Department of Transportation to ensure adherence to these guidelines.

By prioritizing the health and fitness of commercial drivers, the DOT medical card plays a pivotal role in upholding safety standards and promoting secure transportation practices in Tennessee's commercial motor vehicle industry. If you have any questions you can reach Dr. Caminez at

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