DOT Physical Requirements: Blood Pressure & Drug Tests
What Are the DOT Physical Requirements?
The DOT physical is required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) occupation that can impact the safety of an employee or the public, and it follows rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
A DOT physical is an important part of industry safety for truck drivers or anyone that operates a CMV. The DOT physical can only be given by a Certified Medical Examiner, except in the case of veterans who may choose to get an exam at a Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital.
What Are the Most Recent DOT Physical Requirements?
There have recently been changes made to the DOT physical. Medical cards that drivers were required to carry are being phased out. The cards will be replaced with an electronic registry that will verify certification. There have also been recent changes to the drug testing rules. Drivers should contact their employer or state department of motor vehicles for specific changes to testing procedures and policies.
What Happens During a DOT Physical?
A DOT physical covers the following:
- Blood pressure measurement
- General physical exam
A DOT physical can cover up to twelve different categories of wellness, ranging from neurological to vascular. The driver may be asked to bring past medical records, and even correctional devices such as eye glasses, contacts or hearing aids to their DOT physical.
Once a driver has passed their DOT physical, they will receive a DOT medical certification.
How Often Are DOT Exams Required?
There are different medical certifications available for drivers, and this can vary from state to state. These certifications may range from three months to two years depending on different health issues like diabetes or hypertension. If a condition is treatable or managed, it may change the status of medical certifications once improvements are apparent after a follow-up DOT physical.
Are There Specific Requirements on the DOT Physical for Blood Pressure?
A generally healthy blood pressure is required to pass the DOT physical, and there are different ranges of blood pressure health that may be permitted for certification.
- Two-year DOT medical certification: A blood pressure reading under 140/90.
- One-year DOT medical certification: A top number of 140-159 and a bottom number of 90-99.
- Three-month temporary DOT certification: A top number of 160-179 and a bottom number of 100-109. The attending physician may recommend blood pressure medication, and the driver can be tested again for a one-year certification if blood pressure has gone down.
- Unable to receive DOT medical certification: A blood pressure reading of 180/110 or higher is considered stage 3 hypertension and DOT medical certification may not be possible. The driver may be given treatment options and can test again at a later time for a re-check, to get a six-month certification.
Are There Specific Requirements on the DOT Physical for Drug Testing?
A recent law change requires drug testing for all CDL drivers who operate CMVs, including anyone employed by federal, state, or local governments. This drug screening is done by the trucking company or training school, and may not be required for a DOT medical certification or be included during the DOT physical. See your specific state regulations for details.
The five classes of drugs that drivers will be tested for include marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).Private companies may choose to test for additional drug types, including alcohol. Drivers should be aware that they may be tested pre-employment, post-accident, randomly, under suspicion, upon return-to-duty or during follow-up after returning to work.
It is important for the driver to discuss all medications they are taking with the DOT physician, as a urinalysis is a standard part of the DOT physical.
A DOT Physical is a Regular Part of Being a Truck Driver
The DOT physical is a routine part of being a trucker and helps to maintain a safe fleet of drivers. Understanding what to expect and maintaining good general health is helpful for drivers seeking their DOT medical certifications.
If you’re concerned about the DOT Physical, get in touch with someone from NETTTS to learn more about what it takes. Find out more and Contact New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS) to learn about their CDL Training Schools.
Mike Demars is a 28-year trucking veteran, as well as a graduate of New England Tractor Trailer Training School with well over a million miles logged on the road. Prior to being the Regional Director of Safety & Training for our Connecticut locations, Mike spent over a decade on the road as an owner/operator of a long haul transportation company and previously managed drivers as a Driver Manager and Safety Director. He has achieved the level of Master Instructor and holds his certificate in Collision Avoidance, and is often sought as an industry expert to discuss practices within the field and to testify in transportation and trucking matters.