How to Prepare for a DOT Physical Exam

If you drive a commercial vehicle for a living, sooner or later you’re going to have to take your physical exam to get certified for your job. Your doctor is probably not going to be your favorite person on this particular day, but don’t worry the process doesn’t have to be as terrible as it sounds. To pass your DOT physical exam, well share some tips that will make the experience a little bit easier.

Get to know the DOT physical exam process

Your physical exam might be a little bit different than the one you’re used to. In addition to making sure you’re healthy enough to drive, the DOT physical exam has some additional requirements that your doctor will look for. These requirements vary from state to state, but they are often things like vision, hearing, and co-ordination.

The exam process can get a little confusing, so if you want to come prepared, its helpful to know where you’re headed so you can anticipate any frustrations.

Bring your medical records

When you arrive at your appointment, your doctor will take your medical records and ask a couple of questions to get an idea of your baseline medical health. This includes any prescriptions, diagnosis, or any other information your doctor might need to know about your health. If you have a specific condition or a medication you’re currently taking, you should bring the records with you. Your doctor might want to reference it during the exam so they can make sure you’re up-to-date on your baseline requirements.

These are some important things to know for a DOT exam:

  • Bring glasses or contacts if you are near sighted. The minimum requirement is 20/40 vision in each eye and 70-degree peripheral vision.
  • Bring hearing aids if you are hard of hearing. The minimal hearing standard is 40 decibels in ONE ear.
  • Hearing and seizures are immediate fails! Anyone who has seizures are immediately disqualified!
  • Anyone who uses a CPAP for breathing at night must bring a CPAP compliance report with them.
  • Diabetics who are on insulin must get medical clearance from the treating physician.
  • Anyone who is on medicine for diabetes, high blood pressure, uses a CPAP, over the age of 70, has a prescription for opioids, psych meds, or immune suppression meds will receive a one-year certificate.
  • A benign exam determination the driver will receive a 2 year certificate.
  • A history of heart attack or stroke needs medical clearance, and the certification is only good for one year. Other conditions such as Parkinson’s, Dementia and Huntington’s are disqualified.

People missing limbs must have a S.P.E. Skill performance exam. People who had or have addictions to drugs and/or alcohol must be cleared by a SAP substance abuse professional.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

It might be a little awkward at first, but don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any questions about what to expect. It’s better to be over-prepared for this part of the exam than to be caught off-guard. Your doctor might be curious to know what your medical background is like, so don’t be afraid to tell them about any previous medical work or any training you’ve had.


The DOT physical exam is an important part of your job.

You should expect it to be a little uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster. A little preparation can make this day easier to get through. Make sure to bring your medical records. You can also ask your doctor any questions you might have about the exam.

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