Advanced Career Institute > Blog > From the Experts > Trucker’s Guide to DOT Physical Exam

Trucker’s Guide to DOT Physical Exam

What to Know About The DOT Exam

There are a variety of steps to take in order to become a professional truck driver. One step is to pass the DOT Physical Exam. The DOT Physical Exam is an examination that all truck drivers must take and pass to get their Commercial Driver’s License. This exam determines if the driver meets certain health standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to be eligible to drive. Continue reading to learn more about the DOT Exam!

What Is the DOT Exam?

All truck drivers are required by law to pass the DOT Physical Exam before getting behind the wheel of a big rig. The FMCSA has set a variety of mental and physical health regulations that truckers must meet in order to fulfill the demands of a truck driving career. All professional truck drivers must hold an up-to-date physical certification at all times. Typically, drivers are required to get physicals every 1-2 years. It is important to meet the standards of the DOT physical to ensure both the truck driver’s safety on the road as well as the safety of other motorists.

All candidates are asked to fill out all health questionnaires before they arrive at the office. If drivers have any of the following conditions they need to bring the following with them to the exam:

  • Drivers who have vision or hearing problems must bring either their glasses/contacts or hearing aids with them to the exam.
  • Potential drivers with diabetes must bring their most recent and comprehensive Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) results and blood sugar logs with them.
  • Drivers with heart-related issues must bring a letter from their cardiologist outlining the issues and limitations that the driver has as well as along with a note that they are safe to perform this kind of work.

If a driver comes without these specific papers, yet has one of these conditions, the exam will not be able to be passed until the appropriate items are brought in.

What Can I Expect During the DOT Exam?

In addition to the necessary checks mentioned above, the DOT Physical Exam will also look for a variety of other conditions that a driving candidate may have. These will include the following:

  • General Appearance
  • Eyes (i.e., cataracts, glaucoma, muscular degeneration, etc.)
  • Ears (i.e., scarring of the tympanic membrane, perforated eardrums, etc.)
  • Mouth/Throat Exam (issues swallowing)
  • Heart (to detect problems)
  • Lungs & Chest
  • Abdominal Issues
  • Vascular Issues
  • Genito-Urinary Issues
  • Extremities
  • Possible Spinal Injuries
  • Neurological Issues

These are just some of the issues that get looked at within the exam. The idea behind the DOT Physical Exam is to give prospective drivers a comprehensive physical to ensure that the driver is fit and healthy before beginning their driving career.

What Happens if I Fail?

A candidate will fail the exam if they have the following:

  • Cardiovascular/Respiratory Disease
  • High Blood Pressure (without medication)
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Nervous/Psychiatric Disorder
  • Poor Eyesight (without corrective lenses)
  • Loss of one/multiple limbs

Candidates will also fail if they do not pass the alcohol or drug test that accompanies the rest of their physical.

Failing the DOT Exam does not necessarily mean that you are incapable of driving a truck. If you have a condition that can be treated, consult your doctor for further treatment. If your condition has improved, consider taking the exam again. Additionally, the FMCSA offers exemptions for certain impairments. Refer to your doctor to see if you qualify.

Are you considering a career as a professional truck driver? Advanced Career Institute offers hands-on training to earn your Class A CDL. ACI campuses are located in Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Visalia. To learn more about truck driver training, head over to our Class A CDL Training Program!