DOT Physical And Its Requirements: Everything You Need To Know

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DOT physical ensures that you are fit to be an employee for a safety-sensitive position. The goal is to satisfy the necessary conditions of the DOT to get your job as a commercial driver.

A DOT physical is a process required to obtain a commercial vehicle driver's license. It is conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This test is used to determine your comprehensive physical health, mental health, and ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely. These determinations ensure that you’re medically qualified and able to handle the intense schedule, physical demands, and emotional stress of driving commercial vehicles under all challenging sorts of conditions.

It also covers details that drivers can handle the long hours, exhausting schedules, and stress of operating commercial vehicles. This blog discusses the requirements, the preparation you will need to make for your DOT physical, DOT medical exam, and post-positive actions.

General DOT Physical

General DOT physical is an assessment that looks over the public health of the candidate to ensure that he or she is capable of operating a commercial vehicle. It assesses the physical, mental, and also emotional well-being of the candidate.

 Only licensed medical examiners who are listed under the FMCSA National Registry can conduct DOT physical tests. Medical examiners can be medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, chiropractors, physician assistants, or practicing nurses. But you should note that not all licensed medical experts are authorized to conduct DOT physicals. They must have cleared the DOT exam to become eligible to approve the test. (If you want to know whether an authorized DOT physical examiner tests you, you can take a look at the FMCSA National registry where you can find the name of the examiner)

On passing a DOT physical, you’ll receive a medical certificate that permits you to drive a commercial vehicle for two years, provided you have no underlying physical or mental condition that requires testing regularly.

Requirements Of DOT Physical

Initially, a form has to be filled with all medical details of oneself about:

  • medications you intake
  • surgeries you have undergone (if any)
  • alcohol, tobacco, and other substances
  • health symptoms
  • medical conditions you currently witness
  • Impaired vision
  • Kidney disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression and anxiety disorders
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Medical records you have from the certified specialists you see, mainly if you’re being treated for an ailment or disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Paralysis
  • Stroke
  • Missing limbs
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Chronic pain and any other medical data

Every state has its specific regulations. To perform a DOT physical, a certified medical examiner will investigate your medical history, check your vital signs and perform a required hands-on physical examination that includes the eyes, ears, mouth and throat, heart, lungs and chest, extremities, nervous system, hernias, back, and spine.

Tests include urinalysis, which generates information about blood sugar levels and other health indicators. The sample is also used for drug testing purposes. A blood sample is extracted and is processed to undergo other in-office tests.

DOT Physical In Texas

The Texas Department of Public safety requires all the commercial drivers and employees in safety-sensitive positions to take the DOT physical. The DOT physical in Texas is run by a qualified medical professional with extensive knowledge in DOT drug testing. The DOT drug testing in Texas would cost around $100 to $200 and may vary from one person to another as per the drug testing requirements. Ensure that you pass your DOT drug testing by taking some precautionary home drug testing using high-quality drug testing kits.

How To Prepare For A DOT Physical

It is best to stay in good health no matter the pre-existing nourishment. If you want to ace your exam, you must also consider making adjustments to your lifestyle before taking up the test.

  • If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, get your eyes checked out and your prescription updated.
  • Make sure your medical prescriptions are up to date and consume them regularly as specified.
  • Avoid heavy drinking of alcohol.
  • Don’t misuse substances.
  • Resist foods that adversely impact blood pressure; salty foods can be avoided.
  • Avoid foods that adversely affect blood glucose levels, such as sugary sweets and savories.
  • Contemplate smoking cessation if you use smoking cigarettes or vape. The smoked breath can get you disqualified.
  • Regulate your weight. Practice yoga and exercises more often than now, and follow a healthy diet.
  • Carry along with your Hemoglobin A1C lab results and sugar level log if you have diabetes.

Conditions To Pass A DOT For Drivers

The drivers attain a DOT physical to attest safe-centered driving. All DOT physicals are done according to the Medical Examiner’s discretion. Still, they have to satisfy DOT norms to transport hazardous materials that require their vehicles to exhibit a hazmat placard. The drivers are paid to operate motor vehicles that carry more than eight to fifteen people. Comparatively, the driver must be able to tackle the motor vehicles that have a gross combination weight rating of over 10,000 pounds.

Annual retesting

Some medical conditions require an annual DOT physical screening; such cases are when the drivers have diabetes, heart disease, hypertension.

Frequent testing

A possibility of drivers who work with adverse health conditions requires a DOT physical screening once every three months while undergoing treatment to correct or manage the existing issues. A list of all the prescribed medications you intake, including dosage, frequency, and timing, as well as medication names, have to be furnished.

DOT Drug Screen Requirements

A DOT physical is not just enough to prove a driver fit and fine. DOT regulations prohibit anyone from refusing a test. A drug test follows after a physical DOT upon arrival at the training facility. A drug test is taken from urine samples or blood samples.

The drugs test is performed to detect even the slightest traces of certain drugs such as

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine metabolites
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine

These are the five classes of drugs tested upon. Some other drugs that are tested are Morphine, Heroin, Codeine, Phencyclidine, etc. Nowadays, the examiners are using ten or 12-panel drug testing for the CDL employees and new hires.

A commercial vehicle driver must get drug tested before beginning the pre-employment test and randomly each year of their employment. Moreover, if an emergency occurs, the DOT accident checklist determines if a driver must be drug tested again. Precisely, if an accident results in a fatality or medical treatment at the accident scene, the driver should get drug tested, regardless of whether the driver collects a citation.

Although, in nearly every situation, if a driver gets a citation for any accident, that driver needs to undergo a drug test. The most common drug test attended by truck drivers is the 5-panel drug test. This consists of urine test checks for THC, Opiates, PCP, Cocaine, & Amphetamines.

Regarding alcohol intake, the concentration of alcohol in a person’s breath is connected to the concentration of liquor in his blood. An Evidential breath testing device can calculate alcohol level in a person’s system through their breath. An EBT is a breathalyzer approved for DOT testing. Results generated from an EBT are generally accepted in courts as legal evidence.

DOT Medical Exam

Optic: The person must have at least 20/40 acuity in each eye with or without modification (spectacles or contact lenses) and at least 70 degrees of peripheral vision on the horizontal meridian in each eye. You must recognize and distinguish colors, especially the standard traffic signal lights red, amber, green.

Hearing: The driver or candidate must perceive a forced whisper voice at 5 feet or more with or without a hearing aid. Contrarily, you must endure a formal hearing test with an audiometer and get a pass.

Blood Pressure: Limits on blood pressure are ensured to be less than or equal to 140/90 to be qualified as a driver. If the BP is higher than 140/90 but less than 180/110, you can qualify. But remember, it is for a shorter interval Medical Examination Certificate. This depends on certain aspects, including an initial screening test or re-certification screening test and the medical examiner’s discretion.

Other- Some further factors or situations which could prevent you from attaining the required DOT physical include the loss of a limb, recent major surgery, a current hernia. The screening time takes about 45 minutes.

Once the medical examiner finds out that the examined person is physically fit to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), the medical examiner will provide one copy of the results to the person concerned and produce a detailed Medical Examiner's Certificate.

Conditions To Disqualify A Driver

  1. If the person being tested has a history of alcoholism can never stand a chance.
  2. Failing to meet the minimum vision and hearing medical standards may raise opportunities to disqualify.
  3. Consumption of medicines containing methadone or other drugs automatically disqualifies you. Also, considering using a narcotic, amphetamine, or another habit-forming drug without a certified doctor prescription or from a treating physician automatically disqualifies you.
  4. Loss or impairment of a limb or an arm that impedes driving a commercial vehicle or chores related to driving is a possibility to get disqualified.
  5. Deafness
  6. A poorly managed diabetes mellitus can remove you from the DOT drug test.
  7. Epilepsy, narcolepsy are addons to the disqualification of a driver.

What Happens If You Are Tested Positive Or Refuse To Take The Test

If you fail the exam, this does not necessarily prohibit you from becoming a driver; it just needs a few clearances on yourself. If you are a pre-employment candidate, you will be asked to apply again after six months. If you are an employee, the employer will direct you to the SAP to recommend a treatment and education plan for your well-being. You can improve it with treatment. Discuss a plan to address the correction and try again.

If you perform the DOT test for a private organization, the DOT has no authority over their hiring and firing process if you neglect or fail to take the drug test. The FMCSA provides specific driver exemption programs for some people with impaired vision or hearing, diabetes, or other disabilities. A certified doctor can assist you in deciding if you’re eligible for those programs.

However, if you deny submitting to the test or your results come back positive, it is within the power of the DOT to dismiss you from performing safety-sensitive jobs. This prohibition effectively gives rise to it, so you can’t work as a driver anywhere. Approval to resume your duties won’t be prolonged until you have successfully wrapped up the return-to-duty process. This procedure includes beholding a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and resubmitting to undergo another drug/alcohol test.

Panicking only creates additional and excessive stress, which is not suitable for your health. Focus on the realities, and don’t jump to extremes unless you have a diagnosed medical condition that can’t be treated. There are chances that you’ll have an alternative to address the area(s) that led to your failure of the physical DOT test.

For example, if your vision posed an issue, corrective lenses could solve the problem and get you in. Similarly, if hearing loss partook to fail your test, the solution may be as simple as a hearing aid. Failing your DOT physical does not mean it's the door that closes you out from your career.

Final words

On the face of granting medical certification, the examining physician should be sure that the driver's history, physical condition, and all other accessible information are consistent enough with the safe performance of their duties as a CDL. The additional objective data must be obtained and, if necessary, certification should be withheld, deferred, or restricted if the driver fails the drug test. The driver’s responsibility is to furnish test results, get approvals from the specialists, and require documentation for waivers. All the supporting evidence and data should be filed with the DOT examination form and conserved like any other medical document.



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