Drivers and DOT Physicals: Basic Information for New Commercial Operators

DOT physicals are a necessary part of becoming a commercial driver or trucker. They ensure that all drivers are safe and cleared to continue driving. Wherever you are in your commercial driving career, you’ll likely need a DOT physical exam at some point, so keep reading to learn more.

Who Needs a DOT Physical?

Not sure if you need a DOT physical? Below are indicators that you will need a physical exam to continue your DOT driving career:

  • Your vehicle can carry more than 15 passengers
  • You receive compensation to drive a vehicle designed for more than eight passengers
  • Your vehicle regularly carries hazardous material and has an associated required placard indicating this.
  • Your vehicle weighs over 10,000 pounds, and you drive it on the interstate.

Due to the nature of the carrying capacity, load, and responsibility, making sure you are in good health is in everyone’s best interest.

Who Can Perform a DOT Physical?

To perform a DOT physical, a medical provider must be certified by the FMCSA. You will have to check your local area to find a certified provider. Options may include:

  • Medical doctors (MD)
  • Physician assistants (PA)
  • Chiropractors (DC)
  • Advanced practice nurses (APN)
  • Doctors of osteopathy (DO)

What Happens During the Physical

During the physical examination, you will be asked for your complete medical history. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Do you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs?
  • Have you ever failed a drug test?
  • Have you ever had surgery?
  • What prescription and/or over-the-counter medications are you currently taking?
  • What previous health problems have you had?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with a chronic or acute condition?
  • Are you currently experiencing any symptoms?

Then, your doctor will perform a hands-on check of various body parts. They will look at:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Blood pressure
  • Mouth and throat
  • Heartrate
  • Lung and chest
  • Abdomen
  • Back and spine
  • Joints
  • Reflexes
  • How you walk
  • Circulatory system

After this, you will give a urine sample to test for additional conditions.

Disqualifying Conditions

Getting a DOT physical exam will reveal if you are in good enough health to continue your commercial driving career. There are a few conditions that will prevent you from becoming certified, though. The following conditions could lead to accidents and will prevent you from becoming medically certified:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled heart conditions
  • Epilepsy/seizures
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Use of marijuana or illegal substances
  • Kidney disease

Ready to get started on your DOT physical exam? Your local urgent care center can give you more information or book an appointment for you so you can get back on the road with your DOT medical card in hand!