What To Expect At Your DOT Medical Exam

Young Male Doctor Checking Patient With Stethoscope In HospitalDOT Medical Exam stands for Department Of Transportation physical examination, and is required for all licensed commercial drivers in the US and must be performed by an approved doctor of medicine. 

The Department of Transportation requires this test to ensure commercial drivers remain healthy enough to work out on the road behind the wheel of a vehicle. There are certain instances when you are required by law to undergo a DOT physical exam, such as:

  • If you work behind the wheel of a motor vehicle that transports 9-15 people at once.
  • If you drive a vehicle for more than 75 miles from where you report to work.
  • If you operate a vehicle for interstate commerce purposes.
  • If you drive a vehicle that weighs over 10,001 pounds.
  • If you are responsible for transporting hazardous materials. (Reference)

What Is Checked At Your DOT Exam?

The doctor performing your medical examination must find you are physically and mentally qualified to safely operate a motor vehicle in order for you to receive an approved Medical Examiner’s Certificate.

When you arrive at your exam you will be asked to fill out a form that details your health history and current health, including all medications you are taking. Once you have completed this survey you will be thoroughly examined by a doctor.

The doctor needs to know things such as if you have had a pace maker implanted or if you have ever suffered a heart attack. Your vision, hearing, blood pressure and other laboratory findings will also be recorded in order to present a report for overall health.

All of the basics are checked including your general appearance and demeanor, eyes, ears, throat/mouth, heart, lungs, chest, abdomen, liver, vascular system, spine, neurological and extremities–noting any loss of limbs or physical debilities.

The purpose of this exam is to ensure your safety and the safety of others. The CDC must know that all commercial drivers out on the road are healthy enough to pose no serious risk to other drivers, passengers or themselves. Commercial transportation involves long hours at a time and often at odd hours of the day and night. This requires a certain mindset, which is why the exam requires a doctor assess you for healthy mental state of mind. This includes any substance abuse issues as well as current medications you are taking.

Your physical body is also taken into consideration regarding your overall health and level of fitness. It is common for commercial drivers to lift heavy loads from time to time, and so the ability for you to safely do so is also taken into consideration. If you are advised against any sort of lifting or heavy exertion this might be a concern, but not necessary a deal breaker. Loss of limb may be subject to disqualification unless you have a Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate. (Reference)

How Long Is A DOT Exam Valid?

A DOT exam is considered relevant and valid for up to a total of 24 months. A medical examiner has the right to create a certificate that is effective for less than 24 months.

Once you have filled out the form and completed your physical exam the doctor will go over any issues of concern with you. If you are approved with no concerns regarding your health your exam will remain valid for the full 24 months. If your examiner thinks you are overall fit and healthy but has some concerns they may issue a certificate that is valid for three months, six months, or however long they see fit. If standards are not met your health examiner will not be able to give you a valid medical certificate.

DOT Restrictions

In some instances people are not approved as a commercial driver because of restrictions outlined by DOT, such as:

  • If you inject insulin to treat diabetes.
  • If you do not have 20/40 correctable vision in both your left and right eyes. (You may wear glasses or contact lenses. If you wear corrective eye lenses this will be noted on your certificate in detail.) 
  • If you take any habit-forming drugs including narcotics and amphetamines.

When you fill out your driver health history survey you must answer all questions honestly. It is against the law to lie on your health survey. When talking to the doctor you should be completely honest as well.

When you visit Urgent Medical Center for your DOT exam you have nothing to worry about. From our family to yours, we treat all of our patients with the kindness, care and respect you deserve.

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