CDL Driver Preparation for a DOT Physical Exam and Possible Disqualifications

DOT Physical Exams | DOT Compliance | CNS

The entire process for getting a DOT physical goes much smoother for both the examiner and the driver when drivers are prepared for the physical exam. 

Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exams ensure that drivers are in good health to do their job safely. The federal regulations require all drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to pass a physical to obtain a DOT medical card.

A DOT physical, also called a CDL physical, is a test of your general health, mental and emotional well-being and are required for drivers at trucking, construction, local delivery, waste and recycling, moving, passenger transportation, distribution, and other companies.

If you are scheduled for a DOT Physical Exam you will need to bring your current driver’s license, updated address card (if applicable), and your current medical card.

In addition, if you are being treated by a medical provider for any of the below conditions, additional information may be needed for qualification and we recommend that it be brought along with you.


What can you expect during the DOT physical exam?

Once you arrive to the exam location, paperwork will need to be completed for the exam.

A urine sample will be collected that will check for blood, protein, and sugar in your urine. This sample is not for a drug screen.

A nurse will see you and the following will be performed: 

  • height and weight
  • eye exam
  • hearing exam
  • blood pressure and pulse
  • oxygen saturation
  • temperature
  • body mass index, and
  • neck circumference

Next you will see the medical examiner for your physical and determination. If any additional information is needed, you will be given instructions and will have 45 days to have the documentation faxed or brought in for review.


Are there automatic health disqualifications for a CDL driver?

Yes, there are five main automatic disqualifications for specific medical conditions. According to federal regulations under 49 CFR 391.4, the five conditions are:

  1. hearing loss,
  2. vision loss,
  3. epilepsy,
  4. insulin use to treat diabetes, and
  5. use of any habit-forming drugs, including narcotics and amphetamines.

Regarding vision loss, if you do not have a correctable 20/40 vision in both your eyes, then you will be disqualified medically. Correctable vision are glasses or contacts and will be noted during the exam.

Drivers can receive diabetes and vision exemptions to drive a CMV safely.

The vision exemption is issued for a maximum of two years and is renewable but requires an annual medical and eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. The motor carrier is responsible for ensuring that the driver has the required documents before driving a CMV and the driver is responsible for carrying both the current vision exemption and current medical certificate while driving.

Some other temporary disqualifications include cardiovascular issues and psychological disorders.

Cardiovascular disqualification requires the CMV driver “to exhibit higher than acceptable likelihood of acute incapacitation from a cardia event, resulting in increased risk to the safety and health of the driver and the public.” Examiners will explain why you might be temporarily or permanently disqualified from getting a medical certificate.

Some psychological or personality disorders can directly affect memory, reasoning, attention, and judgement. “Disorders of a periodically incapacitating nature, even in the early stages of development, may warrant disqualification.”

When disqualification is made, the driver may be given steps to help fix the condition and possibly be restored to medical fitness of duty.

The examiner may also include a recommended waiting period before the examiner can authorize qualification. The driver will be disqualified from driving a CMV until the required steps and additional exam authorizes qualification.

Drivers who take any prescribed medications:

Drivers need to bring a complete list of prescribed medications, doses, and the providers contact information.


Additional information to bring to a DOT physical exam

Drivers who have diabetes:

Drivers need to bring a copy of their last lab work which includes fasting blood sugar and HGA1C. Results should be from within the last 4 months. If they have a journal of your finger sticks, have that available for the exam. Those who are using insulin, please call into the office for further instructions.

Drivers who have high blood pressure:

Drivers who are being treated for high blood pressure should have the last visit note from their provider regarding their high blood pressure and blood pressure readings. Drivers should have blood work not older than 6 months (routine blood work done on High blood pressure patients, creatinine, BUN, fasting glucose, Electrolytes and ECG if 1 year or less old).

A complete list of medications used to control high blood pressure and any at home readings should be available for review during the exam.

Drivers who are required to wear eyeglasses, contact lenses, or hearing devices:

Drivers should be sure to have their glasses with them or contact lenses in place, and hearing devices for the exam.

Drivers who have heart related issues, past or current:

Drivers will need to bring documentation from their cardiologist that reviews medical history, lab work and cardiac testing. In some cases, the driver may need to bring the results of a recent ECHO cardiogram, stress test or any other required testing that has been completed within the past 1-2 years. Please call the office for further instructions and the cardiac clearance form that your provider will need to complete.

Drivers with sleep apnea:

Drivers that are currently using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea will need to bring in a printout of their usage for the last 365 days that shows usage compliance greater than 4 hours; at least 70% of the time, per night. If you have questions regarding this, please call the office for further instructions.

Drivers who are under mental health treatment:

Some mental health treatment requires medications that need to be reviewed by the medical examiner.  A special form may need to be completed by the treating provider before determination can be made on the safety of operating a CMV. Please call the office for further instructions and to obtain the proper forms to have completed.

Drivers who have recently completed a SAP program:

Drivers who have completed a SAP Program need to bring their clearance forms and any documentation that shows verification of completion. For additional questions, please contact the office.


Why choose CNS for my DOT physical?

CNS offers DOT physical exams at our location in Lititz, PA with our Certified Medical Examiner (CME), and we also have mobile DOT physicals available. We know your time and money is valuable, which is why we have flexible availability during the week and the weekend.

We are efficient in scheduling appointments and respect your time, preventing you from having long wait times in crowded waiting rooms. We also have competitive rates, and we understand your budget and operating costs as a driver and/or company.

The CNS Occupational Medicine staff is experienced and friendly, and our CMEs are professionals that will effectively evaluate your status.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or

Questions about DOT Compliance, Licensing, Audits, Programs, etc.?

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