DOT Physical Requirements: The Complete Guide

If you want to operate a commercial motor vehicle, you will need to perform the DOT physical exam; every truck driver has to follow these requirements. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the one that sets the standard for the DOT examinations. Additionally, you should know that only a certified and licensed medical examiner can conduct these tests.

When you aspire to become a professional truck or business truck driver, you will have a clue as to how rigorous and brutal the job demands can be. In order to ensure the safety of the people around you and yourself, there will be a DOT physical test to affirm that you are qualified and fit for the job.

Essentially, the test is about ensuring the driver is physically capable of handling the task and serving the people or the company without endangering themselves in the process. The exam also includes trials that you will likely face when you drive and sit for long periods.

What Is A DOT Physical Used For?

To put it simply, DOT physicals are a requirement that you will need to obtain if you want to have a commercial driver’s license

A DOT physical is used to determine a person’s overall health and ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely. This test’s determinations ensure the safety of many and testify that you are medically qualified to handle the roughness of the job. 

Becoming a commercial driver takes work; you will have to bear fluctuating weather conditions, unpredictable traffic, incredible physical strain, and the additional emotional stress of being on the road for the unforeseeable future.

DOT physicals are a requirement for people who:

  • Transport dangerous materials and, consequently, their vehicles displaying a hazmat placard.
  • Get paid to operate commercial vehicles that have more than eight passengers.
  • Independently operate vehicles that have more than 15 passengers.
  • Operate vehicles that have a combined gross weight rating of a little over 10,000 pounds.

And if you pass any of these criteria, then you will have to apply for the DOT physical test. Once you pass the test, you will receive a medical certificate that will let a driver use a commercial motor vehicle for 2 years. However, you can only qualify for this certificate if you have no underlying mental or health condition.

What Medical Requirements Hold You Back?

Some medical conditions are severe enough to disqualify you from becoming a commercial driver. Or, more likely, they ask you to return for a health evaluation after a specific period. For instance, if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, you will have to take physical tests every 3 months. They may even have to undergo some medical treatments that you will have to manage or correct, if possible.

Few examples of similar medical conditions that will require you to have a yearly DOT exam are:

What Are the Requirements for a DOT Physical?

What are the requirements for a DOT physical? This is a question that every aspiring commercial driver wants to know. The medical examiner conducting the DOT physical will likely give you a medical health history form first. It will be a form that will contain all the questions about the family’s medical history so that they can get a better perspective of any lingering hereditary diseases.

Health History Form

In this particular case, as mentioned above, the medical expert will list down necessary questions to learn more about your medical history. It will be about your family, to learn of any underlying illnesses, and about your own medical history as well. You will have to fulfill these DOT medical card requirements in order to get your certificate.

Depending on where you are getting your DOT physical from, they may even give you time and space to fill it out beforehand and bring it with you when you can.

Some of the questions they may give you are:

  • Are you on any medication? If you are on medication, then what is the prescription?
  • Have you had any surgeries; if yes, then what was the cause?
  • Are you using tobacco, alcohol, or other substances?
  • Do you have any health conditions or symptoms currently?

The Physical Examination

Lastly, and most importantly, your DOT exam will contain a physical examination. The examiner will provide you with a complete physical analysis of this test. Most of the tests are to foresee any negative impact your health is dealing with. 

The most critical and standard physical examination steps are:

  • Blood pressure
  • Hearing 
  • Vision 
  • Any other health indicators

Urine Test

The last step of the CDL physical requirements is that you have to take a urine test. With the test, the doctor will see any underlying issues, i.e., kidney diseases, heart disease, or diabetes. 

However, keep in mind that this isn’t a drug test; it is a health test. Your drug test will only be conducted if your employer asks for it.

What Are the New DOT Physical Requirements?

While there aren’t any new DOT physical requirements for 2022, the existing ones have gotten more enforced. After following these requirements for DOT physical, you won’t have to hesitate before approaching a business and presenting yourself as a valuable asset to their firm. A few of the recent reinforcements include:

  • Truck drivers need to have 20/40 vision for each eye.
  • They also need to be able to hear a whisper from five meters away
  • They now have to conduct a reflex exam where the medical examiner will check for any deformities that may impair your movements 
  • If the driver has a respiratory problem like asthma, they will have to take another test.
  • The driver will also have to face a neurological exam. The doctor will check if the driver is capable of handling the stress that comes with the job.

How Long Is a DOT Physical Good For?

The timeline for a DOT physical is set to be for two years. For 24 months, you won’t have to worry about getting a new one. However, the medical examiner may even issue a certificate for people with underlying health conditions. They may get a license for less than 24 months because they will have to return for another health evaluation from the medical examiner.

So, remember that if the medical examiner has diagnosed you, you have to reach out before the deadline, or else you won’t be eligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Final Thoughts

In order to operate a commercial motor vehicle, you have to follow certain requirements and fulfill them to receive a DOT physical. And to receive this certificate, you will have to follow the protocol of specific rules, and with the help of your medical examiner, you will be able to pass the exam in no time. When you receive this certificate, it will last for 24 months unless you have one or more medical conditions.