If you want to drive a large commercial vehicle for a living, you must first obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and a valid Department of Transportation (DOT) medical card, which can only be issued once you have successfully passed a DOT physical. What’s more, you will need to have a DOT physical every one to two years during your career to ensure you have continued qualifications.
A DOT physical is a medical examination that ensures you are fit to meet the demands of your job and can operate large vehicles – including those with passengers – without putting yourself or anyone else at risk.
The process of getting a DOT physical and medical card is fairly straightforward, yet many applicants are often unsure of the requirements they must meet to pass.
When A DOT Physical Is Necessary
You are required to undergo a DOT physical if:
- You are hired to transport hazardous materials.
- You will be operating a vehicle that carries more than 15 people or will be paid direct compensation to operate a vehicle than carries more than eight people.
- You will be operating a vehicle with a gross combined weight of more than 10,000 lbs.
How to Prepare for Your DOT Physical
The DOT physical is merely a checkup to ensure your fitness for operating a large vehicle. So, unless you have a health issue, there is little you need to do to prepare.
If, however, you are overweight, have a serious preexisting condition managed by a doctor, or recovering from a major health issue, you may want to make certain adjustments before your exam. That includes making sure your prescriptions and medications are up to date and having the right corrective eyewear or hearing aid. You should also refrain from processed foods, alcohol consumption, and smoking to ensure that you are in good health at the time of your physical.
You will need to bring your medical records (if the exam is being conducted by a new doctor), medical records from any specialist you are seeing, your most recent laboratory reports if you are diabetic or have another chronic condition, and a list of any prescription medication you are taking, as well as your completed DOT physical medical examination form.
What the DOT Physical Entails
The DOT physical checklist includes reviewing your health history, vision, hearing, blood, and a range of other health indicators that may flag a problem that could put you at risk while operating a commercial vehicle. The medical exam also includes a urinalysis.
If your blood pressure is 140/90 or below, you’ll pass that part of the exam. However, if it’s between 140/90 and 179/109, you may be required to have a medical exam more frequently or be given a temporary medical card and asked to reduce your blood pressure within three months.
To pass the vision test, you must have 20/40 vision in each eye either with or without glasses, a field of vision of 70 degrees or more in each eye, and be able to differentiate between red, green, and amber. If you fail to meet these standards but meet all other standards of the DOT physical, you may be able to apply for an exemption.
To pass the hearing test, you must be able to hear a harsh whisper in your best ear, at no less than five feet, with or without a hearing aid. If you need a hearing aid, you must wear the device at all times while driving.
Severe medical conditions that may disqualify you from operating a large commercial vehicle safely include uncontrolled diabetes, hernias, high body mass index (obesity), sleep apnea, and deafness.
A DOT physical does not specifically test for drugs, as the purpose of the urine sample collected is to check your blood sugar levels. However, some employers do require a urine sample for a DOT drug test.
If your medical examiner finds something that warrants further testing, you may be referred for another exam before you can receive your certificate. If you fail the DOT physical, you can always take it again once you and your doctor make some lifestyle changes to improve your health.
DOT Physicals in Mount Ayr, Iowa
At Mount Ayr Medical Clinic, which is conveniently located inside Ringgold County Hospital, our medical providers offer all types of physical exams, including annual physicals for men, women, and children; athletic or sports physicals; and those that may be required of a job – such as DOT physicals.
Dr. Katie Willcox and nurse practitioner Erin Leonard at Mount Ayr Medical Clinic are both certified medical examiners listed in the national registry. If you need a DOT physical, you can call Mount Ayr Medical Clinic at (641)464-4470 to schedule it with Dr. Willcox or Erin – or simply request an appointment now.