Federal law requires drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to receive regular physical examinations under the Department of Transportation. DOT physicals are highly regulated for the drivers’ safety and are designed to detect physical, mental, and emotional issues that can affect a driver’s ability to safely drive a commercial vehicle. A DOT physical follows strict guidelines mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), ensuring that CDL drivers and other safety-sensitive employees are in good health to work safely. With these strict guidelines, DOT physicals can sometimes seem like an overwhelming process. For this reason, the staff at the Alabama Clinics in Dothan are well trained and specialized to make the process as smooth as possible.
DOT Physicals are Essential
Employers cannot have drivers out on the road without a valid DOT card. That means that you can’t legally do business unless your CMV driver is cleared for the road. Because of this, DOT physicals are a must-have if you’re a commercial driver or employ commercial drivers. They help ensure your drivers will be safe on the road, and compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
What do the DOT Physical Covers?
Drivers are required to have at least 20/40 acuity in each eye with or without correction. They are also required to have at least 70” peripheral in the horizontal meridian, measured in each eye.
Drivers must be able to perceive what is known as a “forced whisper” at a distance of 5ft or less, with or without a hearing aid. This standard equates to an average hearing loss in the better ear
of less than 40 dB.
Blood pressure/pulse rate
The medical examiner will check the driver’s blood pressure and pulse to look for high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.
A urinalysis is required. The test looks for indications of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes.
The physical exam will cover a dozen different categories:
Spine, other musculoskeletal (previous surgery, limitation of motion, tenderness, etc.)
Neurological (impaired equilibrium, coordination or speech pattern, ataxia, asymmetric deep tendon reflexes)
A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination must be conducted by a licensed “medical examiner” listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry.
A DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months. The medical examiner may also issue a medical examiner’s certificate for less than 24 months when it is desirable to monitor a condition, such as high blood pressure.
What to Bring to a DOT Physical?
All drivers need to bring a complete list of their medication, including the doses and their doctors’ names and addresses. To save time, it’s also recommended that drivers fill out the health history questionnaire before coming to the clinic.
To make sure the exam runs as smoothly as possible, drivers with certain medical issues need to bring the appropriate documents or items. The below are the state requirement and for this purpose, Alabama Clinics provide a complete documentation so they don’t face any issues in obtaining the DOT Physical.
Bring a complete list of ALL of your medications, including the doses and your doctors’ names and addresses
You may want to complete page one of the exam (driver’s portion) to save time at the center
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
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 the use of stent, valve replacement, pacemaker, open-heart surgery, cardiac bypass surgery, or heart attack)
At minimum, bring a letter from your cardiologist (heart specialist) that outlines your medical history and 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, seizure disorder, or bleeding in the brain
Bring a letter from your neurologist (brain and nerve specialist) 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 (Warfarin)
Bring a recent INR (blood level and clearance) letter from your doctor
If you are uncertain if you will qualify for a DOT card, you may want to schedule a visit with your primary or specialty physician BEFORE your re-certification date. Each physical examination, just like each DOT applicant, is unique.
The above are guidelines only, and not meant to be all inclusive or as a guarantee of passing the exam. Additional testing or/information may be required by your DOT examiner.
Department of Transportation Requirements
To pass the physical for the CDL you:.
With or without vision corrections, each eye, as well as both eyes combined, need to have 20/40 vision.
Must be capable of distinguishing colors found on traffic signals.
Hearing should be good enough to notice a forced whisper at a minimum distance of 5 feet.
Maximum allowable blood pressure is 160/100. Use of prescription medication to achieve this threshold is permitted.
An applicant can have diabetes which is controlled through diet or medication. Diabetes which is controlled though insulin injections is not permitted
Blood sugar may not be higher than 200.
No use of a Schedule 1 drug, amphetamine, narcotic or any habit forming drug is allowed.
In case you are currently diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease such as congestive cardiac failure, collapse or cardiac insufficiency, then you will need to provide the Medical Examiner with a stress test along with a note from your physician which states that you are able to drive a commercial motor vehicle without restrictions restrictions.