DOT physical requirements, exam, and FAQs: A quick guide
In order to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), a physical examination is required. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a department of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), sets the standards of a DOT physical exam. A physical exam must be performed only by a certified medical examiner.
Driving large tankers, trucks, buses, and long limousines can be a physically challenging occupation. According to the Department of Transportation, to acquire a commercial driver’s license (CDL), completing the CDL training and passing the DOT physical is mandatory. It ensures that you are physically capable of operating large commercial vehicles. Learn more about the DOT exam and find DOT medical examiner locations near you.
The DOT medical examination
Only a certified medical examiner can perform the DOT physical exam. The physician will check your medical history and ask questions about your lifestyle and what medications you are taking. The exam also includes:
- A vision check. Truck drivers must have 20/40 vision in each eye.
- A blood pressure test. Blood pressure must be at or below 140/90 with or without medication to be a truck driver for a 2-year certification.
- A hearing test where you are tested if you can hear a forced whisper from five feet away. This test ensures that your hearing is okay.
- A reflex and movement exam. The DOT medical examiner will check for things that could impair your movement, such as spinal deformities.
- Lung function assessment. If you have a respiratory problem, like asthma, you may need another lung test.
- A neurological exam. During this part of the test, the doctor will check your reflexes and coordination. The doctor will also check for neurological issues that could affect your ability to drive. If you have epilepsy or another seizure disorder, you will be disqualified from getting a DOT medical examination.
During the DOT physical exam, you will also give a urine sample for a urinalysis. Through urine testing, underlying issues, such as kidney disease or diabetes mellitus can be determined. Your sample will not be used for drug testing. A drug test is only done upon the request of your employer.
Frequently asked questions about DOT exams
Q: What should I bring to the appointment?
A: When you come in for your exam, it is imperative to have a list of your current doctors and medications. Have your medical history handy too. If you wear a hearing aid, prescription glasses, or contact lenses, wear those to the exam.
Q: What if I am not a medical insurance plan holder?
A: If you are not a medical insurance plan holder, you can still get a DOT physical exam. Nao Medical offers DOT physical exams for $125.
Q: What things do I need to disclose during a DOT exam?
A: Tell the doctor about all medical conditions that you may have and the medications that you take. Failure to disclose such vital information during the exam can result in not getting a DOT medical card. Additionally, you might have to pay fines.
Q: What if I’m on blood pressure medication?
A: Your blood pressure must be controlled and be below 140/90 mm Hg at the time of your DOT exam. Also, it is very helpful to have a note from your physician saying that you are being treated for hypertension and that the medication is working.
Q: Do I need glasses with 20/25 vision for a DOT Physical?
A: No, you do not require glasses with 20/25 vision in both eyes for a DOT physical. The requirement for eyesight is 20/40 with corrective glasses or contacts. The ability to distinguish color is a requirement to pass the DOT exam in order to fully identify traffic lights.
Q: Can I wear contact lenses to do the vision test?
A: Yes, you are permitted to wear corrective lenses for the DOT exam. This way, your physician may also check if you need to update your glasses or contacts to improve your vision.
Q: Can I acquire a DOT medical card if I use a hearing aid?
A: Yes, the hearing test can be done with hearing aids.
Q: Can I get a DOT medical card if I have a defibrillator?
A: A defibrillator is a disqualifier for interstate driving.
Q: Are DOT physicals and CDL physicals the same?
A: DOT physicals and CDL physicals are the same.
Q: How often do I need a DOT physical exam?
A: Most DOT medical cards are good for two years. However, if you have certain medical conditions, like high blood pressure, you may have to get a DOT physical exam more often.
Q: How much does a DOT exam cost?
A: Are you wondering what the cost is to have a DOT physical? At $125, Nao Medical’s DOT physical exams are very affordable. This cost includes both a urine test and vision check.