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February 3, 2019

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?

Over the years, there have been changes to the DOT physical. Medical cards that drivers were required to carry are being phased out. The idea is that cards will eventually be replaced with an electronic registry that will verify certification. There have also been changes to the drug testing rules. Drivers should contact their employer or state department of motor vehicles for current testing procedures and policies.

What Happens During a DOT Physical?

A DOT physical covers the following:

  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Urinalysis
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • General physical exam

A DOT physical can cover up to twelve different categories of wellness. It can range 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. 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 law change requires drug testing for all CDL drivers who operate CMVs. This can include anyone employed by federal, state, or local governments. This drug screening is done by the trucking company or training school. It 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. A urinalysis is generally 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 can be helpful for drivers seeking their DOT medical certifications.

If you’re looking to learn more about the DOT Physical, get in touch with someone from NETTTS to learn more. Find out more and Contact New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS) to learn about their CDL Training Schools.