The demanding nature of operating a commercial motor vehicle means that drivers must meet certain physical requirements in order to legally perform their duties. This is known as a Department of Transportation physical, or “DOT” physical. Read our article for more information about the specific DOT physical requirements for 2023.
What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?
A commercial motor vehicles (CMV) is defined by federal government as a “self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the highways in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property,” and also meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Has a gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
- Transports 8 or more passengers for compensation
- Transports more than 15 passengers but not for compensation
- Transports materials deemed hazardous by the DOT and in a quantity that warrants placarding
Some examples of commercial motor vehicles include semi-trucks, stretch limousines, buses, and tankers.
Who Performs a DOT Physical?
DOT physicals can be performed only by a certified medical examiner who has completed the required training and passed a certification exam. The certified medical examiner must also, of course, be licensed in accordance with state laws to perform physical examinations in general. A registry of DOT certified medical examiners can be found on the FMCSA website.
What Happens During a DOT Physical?
A DOT physical is not dissimilar from a traditional physical exam. Your certified medical professional will ask you questions about your medical history and examine certain areas of your body. The main difference between a DOT physical and a regular physical is the emphasis on certain functions, namely those that are deemed integral in operating a large vehicle safely. Specifically, you can expect the following during your DOT exam:
- Eye Exam: drivers must have at least 20/40 vision in both eyes. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to wear them to the exam.
- Hearing Test: your examiner will check your hearing. This is often done by using a forced whisper from five feet away, then asking the patient to repeat what was said. If you wear hearing aids, you are allowed to use them during the test.
- Blood Pressure Check: in order to receive a two year certification, drivers must have a blood pressure (with or without medication) at or below 140/90. If it is greater than this, you may be required to re-certify sooner.
- Neurological Exam: your medical provider will check your reflexes, coordination, and response times.
- Urinalysis: your examiner will test your urine for signs of kidney issues and diabetes mellitus. Your urine may also be screened for the presence of certain drugs, but this will be at the discretion of your employer.
What Happens if You Fail a DOT Exam?
Whether or not you pass your DOT physical is largely at the discretion of your medical provider. Many conditions, such as diabetes, will not automatically disqualify you, provided they are well controlled and monitored.
That being said, there are certain diagnoses where you are unlikely to pass your DOT physical. These include:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Loss of limb
- Substance abuse disorder
If you do fail your DOT physical due to an uncontrolled illness, you will have the opportunity to reapply once you have started a medical regimen to address the issue. For example, if your blood pressure is too high, you can work with your primary care provider or specialist to start medication and begin lifestyle changes. Once your numbers are within the required range of 140/90 or less, you can schedule another DOT physical and obtain your certification.
DOT Physicals in Florida
The Crane Center in Destin, Florida is proud to offer DOT physicals by our exceptional physician assistant, Shaun Myers. If you need to complete your DOT physical or re-certify, please contact our office or go online today to schedule an appointment.