Applying for a California Intrastate Commercial Driver License (CDL) Class B with P (Passenger) Endorsement is an undertaking if you have Obstructive, Central, or Mixed Sleep Apnea. You need to make sure you’re in compliance when disclosing Sleep Apnea on an application, since the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires the medical examiner to request documentation of compliance with sleep apnea treatment. This can cause major issues if you’re not working, don’t have cheap health insurance, or lacking funds to get CPAP printouts from a sleep center. The physical examination and questionaire is geared to catch underlying conditions that might affect your ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Take this into consideration when applying for a commercial drivers license through an employer that requires the use of their own DOT medical examiner listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration National Registry (FMCSA). I disclosed sleep apnea on the application and was required to prove compliance of > 4 hours per night at least 70% of the time within the past 30 days. Make sure you’re using your CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea so you can provide proof of compliance. Please make sure the date is correct on the machine and begin using the machine immediately so you have the data available for the license medical examiner once you disclose CPAP usage. DOT Medical Exam and Commercial Motor Vehicle Certification information may be found by visiting their website at the provided link. Are you in a bind because you don’t have insurance and can’t provide printouts? Be proactive. Start using your machine today and when it’s time for your physical examination, take your CPAP machine and get it booted while undressing so it’s ready and prepared for the medical examiner. Be honest. If you don’t have health insurance or a current sleep doctor but can show compliance through the LCD screen of the CPAP machine, have that ready and available and explain that trying to obtain printouts without an actual job is a chicken and egg situation.
70% usage within the past 30 days equals 21 days of usage within the past 30 days. A minimum of 4 hours equals 84 hours of usage within those 21 days to show compliance with sleep apnea treatment. This is the equivalent of 10.50 eight hours sleep nights, which is an extremely low threshold to obtain. I wasn’t aware of this requirement and was sideswiped when the medical examiner requested proof of compliance since I returned from a camping 6 day camping trip the day before my physical examination. I was terrified since I did not know what the results would show on my CPAP machine. Luckily, when I arrived at home, it showed a total of 23/30 days with > 4 hours of usage with a 6.55 hour average during the past 30 days. I was excited but I also realized that if I did not visit the doctor quickly I would lose the information and be out of compliance.
I was in an extremly stressful situation and hope this post helps you start CPAP compliance today. You could just as well not disclose this information to the medical examiner, but you risk losing your job if it’s found at a later point that you did not disclose sleep apnea. Be preemptive and bring your CPAP with you so you have a chance to possibly convice your doctor that you’re compliant with CPAP even if you don’t currently have health insurance or can’t afford a sleep center printing out SDCARD information.