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DOT Physical Overview

Who Needs a DOT Physical?

Generally, there are three types of drivers who need a Department of Transportation (DOT) Physical:
  • Drivers of both intrastate and interstate commerce including drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV)

  • School Bus Driver or Commercial Bus Driver

  • Drivers hauling hazardous materials that requires a placard on the trailer

There are some nuances, however, based on vehicle weight or number of passengers1

What to Expect During a DOT Physical?

A DOT Physical consists of 7 sections:

  • Driver Information (completed by the driver) – Name, Address, DOB, License #, etc.

  • Health History (completed by the driver) – Medical Conditions, Medications

  • Vision – Standard vision test with a Snellen Wall Chart. A recent exam from a vision specialist can also be used

  • Hearing – A whispered voice test at 5 feet with or without a hearing assistive device or have an audiometric test

  • Blood Pressure & Pulse

  • Urinalysis – Testing for protein, blood, and glucose

  • Physical Exam – General check of all major body systems including mouth, throat, skin, heart, lungs/chest, abdomen, back/spine, extremities and joints, genitourinary system, neurological system, and vascular system

Is a Drug Test Part of a DOT Physical?

Drug tests are not included in the DOT Physical. However, a drug test is often performed at the same time in the case of a pre-employment or return-to-work physical.

How Long are DOT Physicals Good For?

If a driver is in good health, the DOT Medical Card, also known as a medical examiner’s certificate, is valid for 24 months. However, a medical examiner may issue a DOT Medical Card for less than 24 months if the driver has a medical condition that necessitates more frequent monitoring. The most common conditions that result in a decreased length of certification are:

  • Drivers with a history of cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure2, Heart Attack, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Irregular Heart Beat, etc.3
  • Drivers with Sleep Apnea requiring the use of a sleep assistive device such as a CPAP or custom dental device
  • Drivers who suffer from mental health disorders including, but not limited to depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder4

According to the FMCSA, nearly 50% of drivers must have a physical more frequently than every 24 months.

Who Can Perform a DOT Physical?

The Medical Provider Must Be:

A licensed doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or chiropractor AND

A member of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiner (NRCME). Medical professionals receive special training and must pass a test to be included in the national registry.

Only about 5% of medical professionals have the Certified Medical Examiner (CME) designation.

Where Can I Get a DOT Physical?

With over 1000 locations across the United States, we have a local clinic near you.

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