The DOT physicals are special physical/medical exams required by the Department of Transportation. The exams are a must for those wishing to obtain or maintain a commercial driving license (this includes truck and bus drivers).
Even if you’ve already been advised to take one, you might not know exactly what to expect. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the DOT exam and how they affect you.
Tip #1: A drug test is NOT part of the DOT Physical unless ordered by the employer or required due to past failed drug tests.
Tip #2: The urine test for your DOT Physical is not for Drugs
The urine test performed during a DOT physical test checks for the presence of protein or sugar in your urine. These are important because they could indicate elevated glucose, an early sign of diabetes. They can also show whether you’re having other underlying medical issues, such as kidney problems.
Tip #3: The typical DOT card is valid for two years
However, this only applies if you clear the test properly and you have no medical conditions that could impact your driving performance. For example, being on prescription medications for high-blood pressure or diabetes triggers a restriction on your DOT card. As a result, you might be given a one-year card only and will have to come back after that to repeat the test.
There are also 3-month DOT cards available. These are considered temporary cards and are given to allow you time to get a specific condition under control. For example, if your blood sugar is too high, you might be given a 3-month card so you can see your provider and figure out what medications you need to take to control your blood sugar.
Tip #4: There are specific guidelines regarding blood pressure measurements
You won’t be disqualified from getting your DOT card if you have high blood pressure, but you will be required to keep it under control with medical treatment.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) state that:
- Drivers with less than 140 systolic and 90 diastolic can receive a two-year card
- Drivers with a systolic measurement of up to 159 or a diastolic measurement of up to 99 can receive a one-year card
- Measurements over 160/100 will receive a three-month card so you can go back to your provider for antihypertensive drug therapy. After the three months, if the blood pressure readings have gone down, you can receive a one-year card and will be reassessed annually after that.
Tip #5: Some conditions might disqualify you from passing the DOT exam
Aside from uncontrolled diabetes and blood pressure, you might be disqualified from getting a DOT card if you suffer from poor visual acuity, certain mental disorders, epilepsy and advanced heart disease.
Call ahead , ask questions and be prepared.
By: Dr. Michael Tigges