DOT physical: A quick overview

DOT medical examiner

Your first DOT physical exam can be intimidating. Getting a CDL is important. But getting a DOT physical doesn’t have to be hard. We’ll give you all the information you need and let you know how to schedule your DOT physical today.

The physical demands of driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) are incredibly high. As a commercial driver, you make long hauls across the country carrying important cargo. You must also deliver everything on time.

Even if you’re strictly a local driver, the amount of physical labor you perform every day can take a physical toll. A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam helps ensure that, as a driver, you are healthy and can safely perform your job every day. 

DOT physical exam basics

A DOT physical exam is an evaluation of a commercial driver’s health. It’s also known as a “medical fitness for duty” test, which confirms that you are capable and healthy enough to complete the specific duties of driving a commercial motor vehicle — one of the toughest jobs in America.

Because of the difficulty of the job, it’s important to stay on top of your fitness. This ensures your safety as well as everyone else’s safety while on the road.

The standards of the DOT physical examination are determined by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a department of the United States Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry. Each DOT physical exam must be done by a certified medical professional.

Remember these:

  • When you arrive to take your DOT physical, bring your medical history.
  • Be transparent about your medical history when taking the DOT physical exam.
  • Bring your prescription glasses or hearing aid, if you already have one.
  • All forms will be provided by the healthcare facility when you arrive for your night or day appointment.

Many CMV truck drivers worry that being overweight will automatically lead to a failed DOT physical, but that’s not the case. The DOT physical is only designed to determine if you have any restrictive medical conditions. They won’t prohibit you from passing the exam as long as they don’t affect your ability to perform your driving duties.

DOT physical process

The DOT physical exam shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete. DOT Medical examiners look at your current and future health for as long as your card is valid. They also ensure that nothing in your medical history will impact the way you perform your duties.

  • The physical exam includes a urine test to check the health of your kidneys. Typically, DOT medical examiners are looking for early signs of high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney infections. They may include alcohol and drug testing if your employer requires it.
  • Commercial Drivers will also need to complete a vision test for acuity and color vision. You are allowed to use your corrective lenses for this test.
  • Healthcare providers may perform an audiometry, checking if you can hear a forced whisper from 5 feet away. If you fail this, you will be prescribed to wear hearing aids. They’ll also check for sleep apnea and heart conditions.
  • The certified medical examiner will determine your level of fitness on the same day as your DOT physical exam.

If you pass the required standards, you will leave your appointment with your DOT or CDL medical card, which is valid for two years. After that, you’ll be required to stay up to date with your DOT physical schedule.

When you receive your DOT medical card, you will also get a copy of the Medical Examination Report. You must keep a copy of both documents. If you lose your copies, you can always contact the healthcare facility where you got your DOT physical exam.

Between tests, do what you can to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will ensure that nothing interferes when you get a new medical examiner certificate next time. If you have any questions about how to attain health standards, feel free to ask your DOT medical examiner.

What if you don’t pass?

If you don’t pass your DOT physical exam, you’re presented with the following options:

  • When you fail because of a manageable health condition, the DOT medical examiner will issue a short-term DOT medical card. This gives you time to fix the issue that caused the restriction during your physical. But, if you don’t address the issue, you might not qualify for a two-year DOT medical card anymore.
  • Since 2016, the FMCSA reporting system with the National Registry has been flagging commercial driving license holders who seek multiple exams. The DOT exam should be standardized. This means that if you fail at one location, you will likely hear the same answers at another. But if you strongly feel that your DOT medical examiner is incorrect, you can get a second opinion.

Choosing Nao Medical for your DOT physical

We offer a superior level of service at Nao Medical. We know that your time is valuable and that the extra expense of a DOT physical exam is not something you look forward to. We do our best to make the entire experience as cost-effective and seamless as possible.

  • Nao Medical is open seven days a week including holidays.
  • We welcome walk-in appointments. That means if you find an opening in your schedule, you can stop by any Nao Medical location and get your DOT physical exam completed, even if it’s a Sunday afternoon.
  • Our DOT medical examiners will be there, ready to help.
  • Insurance doesn’t cover a DOT physical exam. Therefore, we try to keep the costs as low as possible for you.
  • Leave your contact information and Nao Medical will call and remind you to renew your DOT medical card before it expires.

Contact us for all your urgent care needs

Driving without going through proper CDL training and a current DOT physical certification has major consequences, including job loss and fines. We know that your time is valuable as a commercial driver, so we try to make the process of getting a DOT physical exam as seamless as possible.

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