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Questions to Ask at Your DOT Physical

If you’re a commercial vehicle driver, then you know that having regular DOT physicals is a required part of your job. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires regular physicals to make sure you — and other drivers — stay safe on the road.

With offices in Germantown,‌ ‌Maryland,‌ ‌and‌ ‌Alexandria and ‌Woodbridge,‌ ‌Virginia‌, Medical Access makes it easy and convenient to get DOT physicals, so you can stay on the road. If a DOT physical is in your future, this list of questions can take the “mystery” of the physical and its results.

What exams and evaluations will you perform?

A standard DOT exam includes basic evaluations, like height and weight, blood pressure, and heart rate measurements, and vision and hearing exams, along with a urine test and a drug screen. However, depending on your health history and other factors, your doctor may want additional evaluations. 

What kinds of issues could disqualify me from receiving a certificate?

Remember, the aim of the exam is to screen for health issues that could interfere with your ability to safely operate your vehicle. That means that any medical condition that could interfere with that aim could also result in exam “failure.” 

Obvious issues that could result in a failed exam include any problems that seriously affect your vision or hearing. That’s why it’s important to bring your glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aid to your exam. You can also fail your exam if you lie on your paperwork or if you don’t bring the required paperwork to your visit, like your driver’s license and a list of all your current medications.

Other possible reasons for a failed exam include:

  • Unstable heart conditions
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Seizure disorders, including epilepsy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Medical conditions that can cause dizziness or vertigo
  • Use of illegal substances
  • Marijuana use (including medically prescribed marijuana)
  • Some lung or kidney diseases
  • Need for oxygen therapy

Though some of these issues result in an immediate disqualification for your certificate, other medical conditions may have varying degrees of severity that may or may not result in a failed outcome. Some conditions will require additional testing or treatment to get chronic conditions, like hypertension or diabetes, under control.

When will I know my results?

Unless we need to conduct more complex lab testing, you should know your results the same day as your exam or a day or two later.

If I fail my exam, what do I do next? 

If you fail the exam, you may seek a second opinion from another doctor. You can also ask about exemptions (called variances) that may allow you to drive even with one of the issues listed above. Showing that you’re taking steps to manage a chronic condition could result in a variance that allows you to drive while you improve your underlying health.

What happens if I pass my exam?

If you pass your exam, our office submits the paperwork to the FMCSA, your employer, or both. We can also provide you with a copy of the exam for your own files. (And of course, we’ll keep a copy of your records on file at our office, too.)

How often do I need a DOT physical?

You’ll need to have another exam every 24 months for as long as you operate a commercial vehicle. The exception: If you have a medical condition that warrants additional monitoring, you’ll need to have additional follow-up visits. The frequency of those visits depends on the condition we’re monitoring, your underlying health, and other factors.

Schedule your DOT physical today

Having a DOT physical isn’t just required — it’s also important for keeping you safe and healthy while you’re on the road (and off). To schedule your DOT exam with the team at Medical Access, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

Questions to Ask at Your DOT Physical

Jun 01, 2022