Federal law requires drivers of commercial motor vehicles to obtain regular physical examinations. These examinations (DOT physicals) are designed to detect physical, mental, and emotional hindrances that may impact the driver’s ability to safely operate commercial vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all commercial motor vehicle drivers to maintain a current Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876) to drive. Form MCSA-5875 must be filled out by a DOT certified medical examiner. There have been many recent changes in the certification process and tougher requirements must be met to be certified and re-certified.
Items to bring to your DOT physical at vybe:
- Current driver’s license (expired license will not be accepted)
- Eyeglasses, contact lenses, or anything you currently use for vision correction
- Working hearing aid, or anything you currently use for audio assistance
- Past health history, including medications list or prescription bottles
- Contact info for current physicians and/or specialists
- Current FMCSA Waiver or Exemption Certificate or Skills
- Performance Evaluation (if applicable)
What to expect during the examination:
- The doctor will review your health history with you and conduct a thorough physical examination
- A urine screen (dip-stick test) will be conducted for urine specific gravity, urine protein, urine blood, and urine sugar, to check for the onset of possible disqualifying medical conditions
- Drug testing is not a typical part of the DOT exam but may be required by your employer
How long is a DOT medical card good for?
Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exams are issued to be valid for up to 24 months
- If you meet all the FMCSA DOT Regulations for Commercial Driver Fitness, 2 years
- If periodic monitoring is required for certain medical conditions, 6-12 months
- If you have a recently diagnosed condition that you are working with your primary care doctor to get under control, 1-3 months
- Medical condition(s) or medication(s) may cause your medical card to be disqualified until the disqualifying conditions are rectified
Why might someone fail a DOT exam?
The most common reasons for being disqualified on a DOT physical are elevated blood pressure, uncontrolled sugar in the urine, and the use of prohibited medications. These conditions can commonly be controlled and managed.
Other reasons for failing a DOT exam can involve having any condition that would cause a loss of the ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely, including the loss or impairment of limbs, poor/monocular vision, insulin controlled diabetes, neuropathy, high blood pressure, heart disease, epilepsy, mental disorders or use of certain drugs. Additional testing or records to ensure you are approved to drive may be required as outlined below. The below are guidelines only, and not meant to be all-inclusive or as a guarantee of passing the exam.
- All Drivers:
Bring a complete list of ALL of your medications, including the doses and your doctors’ names and addresses.
- Drivers who require eyeglasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids:
Bring your glasses, contacts, or hearing aids. You will be required to pass a vision and hearing test. Must be able to distinguish colors found on traffic signals.
- Drivers who have high blood pressure:
Your blood pressure MUST be below 140/90 on the day of your exam or you may not qualify for a DOT card.
- Drivers who have diabetes:
Your blood sugar should be controlled. Bring the most recent results of a lab test called a Hemoglobin A1C (HgAIC) and your blood sugar logs or other records related to your diabetes.
- Drivers who have nighttime sleep disturbance (sleep apnea) and use a CPAP machine:
Bring a reading from your machine documenting your proper use of the machine; a letter from your sleep specialist may also be required. Bring at least 90 days of data, but data from the past year is best.
- Drivers who have heart-related issues (including a stent, valves, pacemaker, open-heart surgery, cardiac bypass surgery, or heart attack):
At a minimum, bring a letter from your cardiologist that outlines your medical history, current medications, and indicates you are safe to drive a DOT vehicle. You may also need to bring the results of a recent stress test, ECHO cardiogram, or other testing completed within the past 1-2 years.
- Drivers who have suffered a stroke, a brain tumor, a seizure disorder, or bleeding in the brain:
Bring a letter from your neurologist that outlines your medical history, current medications, and current neurologic and psychiatric state.
- Drivers who have experienced the permanent loss of use in an arm or a leg:
Bring an overview from your physician of the injury and if you have any work restrictions due to the injury. You may need a Skilled Performance Examination in order to qualify for your DOT card.
- Drivers who are taking any medications that may cause sedation or sleepiness or controlled substances (includes narcotics, sleeping pills, anxiety medication, ADHD medication):
You will most likely need a note and medical records from your treating physician regarding the safety of driving a DOT vehicle while using these medications.
- Drivers who are taking the blood thinner Coumadin:
Bring a recent INR (blood level and clearance) letter from your doctor
- Drivers who are obese:
If your BMI is greater than 30.0 the examiner might require a sleep apnea test prior to passing depending on clinical findings and examination.
Here’s a list of things you can do to prepare for your DOT physical at vybe:
- Continue to take your medications, including blood pressure as prescribed.
- Drink water since you will need to provide a urine sample during this visit
- Wear loose clothing for the physical exam
- Do not drink coffee or smoke cigarettes 30 minutes before your exam – these may affect your blood pressure reading
- Complete the ‘Driver Information’ and ‘Health History’ sections of the medical examination report form.
- If you are uncertain you will qualify for a DOT card, you should read the guidelines
above and if needed, schedule a visit with your doctor BEFORE your physical.