DOT Med Card Recertification Question

Topic 30655 | Page 1

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Mark K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. I have some anxiety about an upcoming appointment to recertify for my DOT medical card, and am curious if any of you have experience or wisdom to share.

I've been with Wilson Logistics for some time and love everything about it. Back in June, I had taken a week of home time to visit friends in California, and went into a mental health clinic to seek some assistance because I'd been feeling mildly depressed for about a month. The doctor prescribed me low doses of zyprexa and depakote (NOT as an anti-seizure medication, which it's also prescribed for) as mood stabilizers to see if they would improve things over the next few weeks. I reported the change in medication to compliance and received a note from the doctor stating that I am "medically cleared to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle ," as per compliance's requirement. I then went to see a DOT examiner in San Bernardino from Wilson's list of approved providers to recertify my med card. However, having only been on the new medication for 2 weeks at the time, the DOT examiner felt that not enough time had passed to be sure no side effects would occur, despite my assurances they hadn't and despite the clearance note I provided stating I could safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. The DOT examiner said that at least six weeks would have to pass to monitor my condition on the meds to make sure no unsafe side effects would present, so he denied my recertification. Frustrating, but understandable given the line of work we are in.

Since I was on good terms with Wilson as an employee, they placed me on unpaid leave (their maximum) for 30 days to keep my insurance benefits, and I scheduled follow-up appointments in my hometown with a psychiatric provider to monitor the side effects as instructed. (Even though Wilson requires an automatic separation after the 30 days' leave, they told me that I'm free to return as soon as I reapply and am able to obtain a new medical card.) The new doctor was immediately skeptical of my original diagnosis, and disagreed that I was so quickly placed on psychiatric medications after having been seen only once. She started titrating my doses down for our first two biweekly appointments and recommended Telehealth talk therapy. This week, she felt that we are good to take me off the medications altogether, and after speaking with compliance, they cleared me to go ahead and reapply. I am now waiting for my appointment with a DOT examiner in my area to get recertified, and according to Wilson I can be back on a truck as soon as September 2 in just two weeks.

When I looked at my copy of the DOT long form from the last examination, I noticed that one of the first questions is "has your USDOT/FMCSA medical certificate ever been denied", so naturally I have to report my last denied appointment back in June and explain all of the events. Reason tells me I don't have anything to worry about, because since I'm no longer on the medications, I shouldn't be denied for NOT being on medications-- for which six weeks with no side effects had already passed. What's making me nervous is that I asked my new doctor for a note to bring in stating she took me off the medications, and she said that she "only writes notes for patients she's been seeing for six months." I was floored and dumbfounded at how implausible this sounds, so I repeated myself twice to make sure I heard her correctly. She's otherwise been excellent, but this seems to be completely arbitrary and I'm worried it could prevent a roadblock.

Granted, I haven't even been in for the appointment yet, and the DOT examiner could very well approve me based on the above information. Obviously my plan is to be honest and disclose the entire truth about my situation. My concern is simply that if the DOT examiner asks for a note stating I've been taken off the medication, that I won't be able to provide it, leaving me in a catch-22 where I can't drive on the medications and can't drive off the medications. I badly want to return to Wilson and they clearly want me back, but the only thing standing in the way of being back on my truck is a med card.

Have any of you experienced a similar situation with medications and DOT recertifications, or have you heard of others with similar situations? Wilson states that my DOT exam must be from their list of preferred providers, so if for whatever reason I am denied again at this appointment, is my only recourse to go for another examination elsewhere and then apply to another trucking company if approved? Thanks so much -- fingers crossed!

Commercial Motor Vehicle:

A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • CSA:

    Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

    The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

    FMCSA:

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

    The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

    What Does The FMCSA Do?

    • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
    • Data and Analysis
    • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
    • Research and Technology
    • Safety Assistance
    • Support and Information Sharing

    DOT:

    Department Of Transportation

    A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

    State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

    Fm:

    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

    TWIC:

    Transportation Worker Identification Credential

    Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

    Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Banks's Comment
member avatar

I've never encountered this, but you may qualify for a short term medical card while everything gets squared away.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Mark, I emphasize with your situation about depression. We all ride on the roller coaster of life and anybody who says they've never been depressed is a liar. However, it's very unlikely you would seek mental health treatment for "mild depression". So I think it's fair to assume that your depression was severe. If I'm wrong, I apologize. Getting recertified can be problematic. I just went through 3 DOT physicals before I got my Fed Med card back. No, I wasn't shopping examiners, I just had a problem to fix each time until I finally overcame all the hurtles. What I thought would be a one week process turned into 7 weeks. So, you probably have little choice but to go through the company's process, however long it takes. The unfortunate fallout from an experience like this is that newer drivers learn that "whatever you do or say can and will be held against you". The next time they have an issue, they are to scared to get help because of the fear that they will be flagged as unfit to drive again. So, the cure is worse than the disease. Mark, it's obvious that you were being honest and upfront about your situation. You should be commended, instead it has had unexpected consequences. My observation is that a driver cannot seek help without it being shared with the company. And that keeps some drivers from getting the needed help, even if it's only counseling.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Mark K.'s Comment
member avatar

That’s true Banks, I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you!

The irony is that if I had just sought out the online therapy resources first instead of a doctor, I wouldn’t be in this situation and could have been on my truck all summer! lol

Oh well. I’ll make sure to let everyone know how it goes!

Mark K.'s Comment
member avatar

So I passed! The DOT examiner granted me a 1-year certification under the condition I stay monitored on the medications and produce a doctor’s note with a clean bill of health when I return in a year.

I report to orientation on Wednesday Sep 1 and have to do another skills test for arrival, and will be in my new truck as soon as Thursday or Friday! Cant wait to be under a load again with Wilson :)

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

That's great Mark! I'm really glad to hear you got that worked out.

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