What You Should Expect When Getting Your DOT Physical Exam
The Department of Transportation requires some drivers to get physicals every 24 Months to make sure they are healthy enough to drive. You are required to get a DOT physical and carry a DOT medical certificate when you drive a commercial vehicle OR:
- You are paid to operate a motor vehicle that holds 9 to 15 passengers
- You drive the vehicle more than 75 miles from where you report to work you operate this vehicle for interstate commerce purposes
- You operate a motor vehicle with a gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, gross vehicle weight rating, or gross combination weight of at least 10,001 pounds; you operate this vehicle for interstate commerce purposes You transport hazardous materials in certain quantities.
Passing a DOT physical is of utmost importance if you drive What is considered to be a commercial vehicle part time or full time. Since March of 2015 we have begun to perform DOT physical exams with a whole new set of criteria from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). More than ever before, the FMCSA is focused on insuring the public that those who drive for a living are healthy enough to perform their duties safely. The best way to make sure that you are healthy enough to drive is to live a healthy lifestyle.
There are specific physical qualifications that are required by the federal government from those who want to drive commercial vehicles for a living. These physical qualifications are basic health measures and should be considered equally important in quantifying both your own health (outside of driving a commercial motor vehicle) and your ability to safely drive without putting others in harms way.
- With or without vision corrections, each eye, as well as both eyes combined, need to have 20/40 vision.
- Ability to distinguish color is necessary.
- Hearing needs to 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
- The maximum level of blood sugar an applicant is allowed to have is 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 be required to present 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 with no restrictions.
Although we have just recently started doing DOT exams under the newly adopted federal system, I had been performing these exams since the late 90s. Over that time I have found a few stumbling blocks for drivers trying to get their certification. In order to help you pass your DOT physical I have composed a short list of important points that you should follow.
1) Avoid drinking coffee, tea, soda pop and smoking on the day of your exam.
2) Bring your valid California Driver’s license to your DOT physical appointment.
3) If you wear glasses or contacts, make sure to wear them to your appointment.
4) Make sure to take any blood pressure medications as prescribed.
5) Avoid eating junk food and any other food with high sodium levels.
6) Try to schedule your appointment during a stress free or low stress time period.
Following these simple instructions will give you the best chance at passing your DOT physical.