Your Upcoming DOT Physical Exam

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How to Prepare and What to Expect with a DOT Physical Exam

To drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you must obtain a medical card by taking the DOT physical exam and passing. By doing so, expect the following to be discussed or tested:

Vision and Color Distinction

To meet the vision requirement from the federal DOT guidelines, Drivers must pass the Snellen eye test in both eyes with or without corrective lenses with at least 20/40. Glasses or contact lenses are allowed. If you suffer from color blindness, this will have to be corrected with glasses.

Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure must be 140/90 or below to be medically certified to drive for a two year period. Otherwise, you may have to be monitored. If you are concerned about high blood pressure, you may practice healthier habits before taking your exam.


Can you hear a forced whisper from 5ft away? Truck drivers must be aware of all things around them and this includes being able to hear. Hearing aids are allowed as long as you can perceive the sound is from 5ft away in at least one ear.

Cardiovascular Health

If you have a previous history of cardiovascular health issues, you will need your treating physician to sign off on your health before <a href=”” target=”_blank”>receiving your card</a>. You may be required to do a stress test.

Your Medications

Your medications will be reviewed to make sure they do not affect your ability to drive. Any medication or medical conditions that does affect your ability to drive presents a safety risk and immediately disqualifies you from obtaining the medical card. Check with your treating physician to ensure that your medication does not affect your ability to drive.


In addition to a DOT approved drug test, you will also be asked to provide a urine specimen which will be tested for gravity/dehydration, proteins, glucose levels, and the presence of blood. The results will assist the physician in ruling out any other underlying medical conditions that could interfere with your driving performance.

Physical Endurance

Your testing physician will consider your previous injury history coupled with certain reflex and range of motion exams to determine whether your are fit to sit and steer for long periods of time, climb in and out of the cab, couple and uncouple trailers, climb ladders and inspect the vehicle and cargo. 

Medical History

You are required to disclose your medical history including all past surgeries, medications, ongoing conditions and any history of substance abuse. Conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, epilepsy may interfere with safe driving. 

The purpose of this exam is not to punish but to promote your health and safety. If you have some time before your exam, practice healthy dieting, sleep habits and exercise to optimize your results. You may find you want to implement some of these as a lifestyle change because you are feeling and performing better.