DOT physical Exam

Department of Transportation physical – DOT Exam

How many people die in car accidents annually in the United States of America?

Reports indicate that 40,327 people were killed in U.S. vehicle accidents in 2017. Large trucks cause 8 percent of vehicle fatal accidents in the U.S. This is why when you become a truck driver or operate commercial motor vehicles you are required to pass the Department Of Transportation (DOT) physical exam.


The Federal regulations consist of evaluations to determine drivers’ physical and mental capabilities to perform their duties safely. In the DOT Physical Exam, a certified DOT medical examiner evaluates a person’s physical and mental health to assure no medical conditions will stop his/her ability to drive and operate a vehicle safely.

Some people think that these regulations are mere red tape and unnecessary. But, decision-makers argue that the mortality rates due to human error are increasing and it needs to be addressed. Before applying for this test, you need to know a few things. What to do before the test, what is it consist of, What kind of clinics are qualified to perform this test and etc?

The good news is that the DOT Physical Exam is simple and there is nothing for you to worry about. This blog is prepared by Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center team and it is going to provide the necessary information you need to know about the DOT physical exam.

What you need to know about DOT Exam before taking it

If you come into one of these sections, you need a DOT Physical exam:

  • You run a motor vehicle intended to carry more than 15 people.
  • You have to move a motor vehicle meant to carry more than eight people.
  •  You work with a motor vehicle with a gross combination weight rating, total vehicle weight, overall vehicle weight rating, or a total combined weight of over 10,000 pounds.
  • You carry dangerous materials that need your vehicle to take place card.

Before the candidate drivers take the Department of Transportation physical exam, they all should be able to:

  • See, hear, and think. The drivers have to hold a visual or visual intellectual acuity of 20/40 with or without using corrective visual help.
  • Have 70 degrees or more vision in each eye.
  • Hear a forced noise within the perimeter of 5 feet, but without using any corrective hearing aid.
  • Pass the obligatory audiometer evaluation.
  • Not having a history of high or low blood pressure. The blood pressure required levels are at 140/90

Department of Transportation physical – DOT Exam

What does DOT Physical Exam Cover?

  • Vision

Drivers are needed to have at least 20/40 acuity in each eye with or without correction. They need to have at least 70″ peripheral in the horizontal meridian, measured in each eye.

  • Hearing

Drivers must be able to understand what is well-known as a “forced whisper” at a range of 5ft or less, by hearing aide. This standard relates to an average hearing loss in the better ear of less than 40 dB.3.

  • Blood pressure or pulse rate

The medical examiner will examine the driver’s blood pressure and pulse to look for high blood pressure and unusual heartbeats.

  • Urinalysis

A urinalysis is obligatory. The test looks for signs of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes.

  • Physical Examination

The physical test will cover a dozen different categories:

Overall appearance

  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Mouth and throat (to look for irregular things in breathing or swallowing)
  • Heart (extra sounds)
  • Lungs and chest, but not including breast test (unusual breathing, impaired respiratory functions, cyanosis, etc.)
  •  impaired stomach and Viscera (enlarged liver, viscera, muscle weakness)
  • Vascular (irregular signs, veins)
  • Genito-urinary (hernias) vein reorder
  • Extremities (limb impaired)
  • Spine, other diseases related to bone(back surgery, limitation of motion, tenderness, etc.)
  • Neurological (coordination or speech model, ataxia, asymmetric deep tendon reflexes)

What to Bring to a DOT Physical exam?

Commercial drivers must bring a comprehensive list of their prescriptions, including the dosage regimen, dosages, and their doctors’ names and addresses. To save time, clinics suggest that drivers fill out the health history questionnaire before coming.

To make sure the exam runs as quickly as possible, drivers with certain medical matters need to bring the related documents or items. For example, drivers who have hearing problems need to bring their eyeglasses, contacts, or hearing aids.

Diabetic drivers must bring the newest lab results from their Hemoglobin A1C (HgAIC) and their blood sugar logs.

Drivers with heart-related problems must, at least, bring a letter from their cardiologist that draws their medical records and current medications, and shows that they are safe to work.

what items should you bring to a DOT Physical exam?

  • Complete the driver’s portion of the Medical Examination Report before your visit to save time.
  • This exam is not covered by insurance
  • Carry a comprehensive list of ALL medications, including doctors name and doses

How often is a DOT exam required?

Most medical certifications are valid for two years. However, if you have low blood pressure or high blood pressure, or any other condition that could hinder your driving ability, you may get a 1-year certificate. And if you have very high blood pressure or other treatable conditions, you may receive a 3-month license. After three months, if you show a change in that condition, you’ll be eligible to get a one or two year certificate.

Unfortunately, sometimes drivers start suffering from a condition (after receiving their certificate) that makes it risky to complete their responsibilities on the job. If this true, you have to stop driving, have the condition treated, then take DOT physical to assure your safety as well as that of fellow drivers.

What Happens After you Take The DOT Physical?

If the medical examiner decides that the person examined is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), the medical examiner will provide one copy of the results to the person who was tested and complete a Medical Examiner’s Certificate. The ME will also electronically send your medical report to the DOT, and it will add to the (CDLIS).

If a driver is not able to update his medical certification with the SDLA before it expires, CDLIS will notify you that he is no longer medically certified to drive a CMV and will downgrade the driver’s license to “non-CDL” status. A DOT medical card is proof of passing a DOT physical exam.

If a driver cannot meet the requirements for the Vision, Diabetes, or Physical Impairment part of the DOT physical, he/she may be eligible for a driver exemption.

What Makes a Driver Disqualified for DOT?

Some conditions automatically disqualify the drivers and make them ineligible to take the DOT physical exam. The conditions are:

  • The driver is having a background of alcohol addiction. Consequently, CDLIS will disqualify the driver from having an alcohol addiction.
  • The driver will not drive if he has used recreational and sedative drugs like marijuana and hash.
  • The drivers are undergoing a treatment that includes prescribed drugs.
  • The drivers are having seizures.
  • The drivers suffer a lost limb or other physical restrictions.

What if you fail?

If you can not pass the exam, this does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a driver. Discuss to your doctor about your disqualifying condition. If you can make it better with treatment, consider a plan to address it and try again.

According to recent statistics from the FMCSA, large truck and bus accidents have decreased by 17% since 2003. Injury crashes have also reduced by 18%, and property-damage-only incidents have declined by 27%. The industry’s focus on safety has been working, and your DOT physical plays an essential role in CMV safety.

DOT medical examiner recommends the following hints to pass your physical:

  • One week before your physical, eat, and drink as healthfully as possible. It means reducing or cutting out caffeine, salt, sugar, and junk food. It will balance your blood pressure.

Take all your medications as scheduled at all times and regularly, since it might create incorrect readings during the physical exam if you take them erratically.

  • Do not end your prescribed medications as you lead up to your physical exam. Suddenly stopping your medication can significantly affect your test.
  • If you use visual lenses or glasses to improve your vision, make sure your medicine is up to date and take your improving lenses with you to the physical exam.


DOT physical exam is a regulation issued by the Federal government to ensure drivers perform their duties safely. DOT exam takes about 45 mins. The DOT physical assures that you are completely healthy to drive, which leads to your own health protection and the safety of others on the road.

Eat well, stay active, don’t have any worries, take all the medications if you have, and you won’t have any problem in the way to pass a physical.

Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center offers a wide and complete range of occupational health services to help you, your employees to stay safe and healthy at work. To become a partner and know more about our occupational health service, get an appointment online.

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