Sleep Apnea and Truck Drivers: To Test or Not to Test?

A man sleeping soundly with an alarm clock next to him

Let’s cut right to the chase: what’s the law regarding truck drivers with sleep apnea?

It’s a subject that has created much confusion lately, but I’ll try to clear up the questions in this post!

For starters, what is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a medical condition that affects people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. It affects the quality of sleep, because the person’s breathing will stop and start during sleep, causing disruption.

Why is sleep apnea dangerous for truck drivers?

Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation, impairing judgement and concentration while driving. Even if a truck driver is in bed with eyes closed for a full 8 hours of rest, sleep apnea can make it feel like you’re only getting a measly 2-3 hours of rest.

Can I still drive a truck if I have sleep apnea?

YES! You most certainly can. You must be actively managing your condition and your medical examiner must give the OK that it won’t interfere with your driving ability.

What if I am already driving a truck and then get diagnosed? 

If you already hold a CDL license and then are diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea, your license will be put on hold. You’ll then need to work with your medical examiner to manage your condition. Once your examiner feels that it is under control and they give the go ahead, you can operate with your license again.

So...what does the law say about DOT physical sleep apnea testing?

As of today, there is NO law that DOT requires sleep apnea testing for truck drivers. What is mandatory though, is that you MUST undergo a medical examination before you can receive your CDL license. 

That means if you do have a sleep apnea condition, the medical examiner will check and decide if you need further testing.

If you test moderate to severe, you won’t be able to get your CDL license until the condition is managed properly and the medical examiner consents.


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