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CDL, DOT Medical Exam and Commercial Motor Vehicle Certification

About the Exam

A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination is conducted by a licensed “medical examiner.” The term includes, but is not limited to, doctors of medicine (MD), doctors of osteopathy (DO), physician assistants (PA), advanced practice nurses (APN), and doctors of chiropractic (DC).

A DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months. The medical examiner may also issue a medical examiner’s certificate for less than 24 months when it is desirable to monitor a condition, such as high blood pressure.

Understanding The DOT Physical: Requirements Explained

The DOT Physical is one of the most important qualifications for any CDL driver. Its purpose is intended to help ensure the safety of both the CDL holder and the other drivers sharing the road with him.

The Department of Transportation requires every CDL driver to receive periodic physical examinations conducted by an approved DOT medical examiner. The DOT medical exam looks for certain pre-existing medical conditions that might impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. A medical examiner’s certificate, which is commonly known as a DOT medical card, provides proof the driver has meet the medical requirements to hold a CDL. In most states, a perspective CDL driver must hold a valid DOT medical card before a CDL learner’s permit can be issued.

Conditions & Issues Covered In A CDL Physical Exam

The medical requirement guidelines we mention here are very basic. Any questions should be addressed by a medical professional familiar with your physical condition.

Basic DOT Medical Requirements

  • A holder of a CDL must have 20/40 correctable vision in each eye.
    The key here is correctable vision and that means eye glasses or contact lenses are OK.
  • A CDL driver cannot be a diabetic requiring needle-injected insulin.
    Diabetes controlled by diet may be permissible.
  • A driver’s blood pressure must be 140 over 90 or less for a 24 month DOT Medical Certificate.

In some instances, a prescription blood pressure drug can be used to control high blood pressure.

  • The blood sugar level must be under 200.
  • The use of a narcotic or any other habit forming drugs will prevent you from passing the DOT physical.
  • A current diagnosis of any cardiovascular disease or cardiac issues may require you to provide additional information from your doctor.

Additional blood pressure standards:

    • 140-159/90-99 – 12 month certificate
    • 160-179/100-109 – 3 month temporary certificate
    • Over 180/110 – DOT disqualifier

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