What is a DOT Physical?

A Department of Transportation physical is required for commercial vehicle drivers. A DOT physical is required to ensure that commercial motor vehicle drivers are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. They are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, for public safety.

A DOT physical is the best way to screen for potential communicable diseases.

To obtain a commercial driver’s license, you will need to submit to DOT physicals.

These tests are used to assess your physical and mental health to operate a commercial vehicle safely. These tests ensure you are medically competent to manage the demanding schedule, physical demands, as well as emotional stress, of operating commercial vehicles under any conditions.

Drivers who are:

  • Transport hazardous materials, which require that their vehicles display a hazmat placard
  • Motor vehicles carrying more than eight persons are operated by drivers who are paid a salary
  • Motor vehicles that transport more than 15 passengers
  • Motor vehicles with a combined gross weight rating exceeding 10,000 pounds may be operated

After passing a DOT physical you will receive a medical certificate allowing you to drive commercial vehicles for two years provided that you do not have any underlying mental or physical conditions that require more frequent testing.

You may need to have an annual DOT physical for certain medical conditions. These conditions include:

  • diabetes mellitus
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease

You may need to see a doctor if you have very high blood pressure or another medical condition.

What Does a DOT Physical Consist of?

Before giving you a DOT physical, the medical examiner will ask you questions about your medical history.

Complete health history form

It will be necessary to give detailed information about your health including:

  • You take medications
  • surgeries you’ve had
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and various other substances
  • You may have current medical conditions or symptoms.

This form can also be completed ahead of time so you can bring it along.

Examen physique

Your DOT physical will include a comprehensive physical exam that tests your:

  • Hearing
  • vision
  • Blood pressure
  • Other health indicators

Urinalysis or other testing

A urinalysis will also be provided, which gives information about your blood sugar and other health indicators. You can also use the urinalysis for drug testing.

Additionally, you may have your blood taken or undergo other tests in the office such as an electrocardiogram.

Every test is to make sure you are fit enough to safely drive a commercial vehicle.

The conditions that reject you not to qualify for a DOT card .

You may not be able to pass a DOT physical if you have conditions that affect your ability to safely drive. You could be in an accident if you have a condition that affects your vision or hearing. If you are unable to see or hear, it could make driving unsafe. These conditions include:

  • Conditions that are unstable or uncontrolled in the heart
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that can cause dizziness.
  • Uncontrolled Diabetes
  • Uncontrolled high blood Pressure
  • Vision loss that cannot be corrected
  • A hearing loss that cannot be corrected
  • Even if it is not prescribed, marijuana can be used
  • Illicit substances
  • Oxygen Therapy
  • Certain respiratory conditions
  • Urine may contain protein, which could indicate kidney disease.

The medical examiner will make the final decision about whether you are qualified for these conditions. For certain conditions, you may be eligible for an exemption or waiver from FMCSA. You may be disqualified if you don’t manage a medical condition. You can reapply for certification if you are able resolve the disqualifying condition.

Dot Physical

How do you prepare for a DOT physical examination?

If you are unable to attend the physical, you can complete the driver’s section at home. Also, you will need to bring:

  • A list of all your doctors’ addresses and names
  • A complete list of all your medications, including dosage
  • If you wear them, your contacts or glasses.
  • If you have Diabetes, a record of your blood glucose readings as well as your most recent A1C .
  • If you suffer from sleep apnea, a record of your CPAP device that shows proper use for at most 90 days.
  • If you have issues with your heart, a letter from your doctor indicating that you are safe to drive a physical.
  • If you have had heart test recently, the results are available
  • If you have had a stroke or a brain cancer, seizure disorders, or bleeding inside the brain, a letter from your neurologist.
  • If you are taking medications that cause sleepiness or are controlled substances, a letter and your medical records should be sent to your doctor.
  • If you have lost your permanent use of an arm, leg or foot, a letter from your doctor.
  • If you are taking the Blood Thickener Coumadin, a letter from your doctor is required.

How Can You Get a DOT Physical?

Only FMCSA-certified health care professionals can perform DOT physicals. You can find a licensed medical inspector. You might find licensed medical examiners:

  • Doctors of medicine (MD).
  • Osteopathic doctors (DO)
  • Physician assistants (PA).
  • Doctors of chiropractic (DC)
  • Advanced practice nurses (APN)

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