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Department of Transportation, or a “DOT” physical is an important examination that every trucker must go through on a regular basis. These physicals are mandated by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and must be preformed by a fully licensed professional.
Because you drive commercially, you are a “safety-sensitive” employee or contractor. To protect you and those you drive around, the FMCSA requires you to maintain a valid CDL (commercial driver’s license), and passing a DOT physical exam is part of that requirement. Whether you drive locally in the DFW area or travel across state lines regularly, you’ll still need a DOT exam.
We provide these physicals right here in our office in Allen, Texas to Dallas and the surrounding area. No wait – no appointments – no hidden fees. Let’s connect today!
During a DOT physical, a CME, or certified medical examiner, will do a basic, thorough, hands-on examination of you. These examinations are often to the point and non-invasive. A CME will examine:
You are more than welcome to schedule an exam around your own schedule or simply walk in when you have a few moments free!
Get your exam from your chosen CME. Your physical should be quick, and will include a urine test according to FMCSA regulations.
You're done! Your results will be sent directly to the NRCME and you'll receive a copy of your Medical Examiner's Certificate.
Great question. If you’re looking into becoming a professional truck driver, there are some things you might want to research. One of these many things is the rigorous demands of the FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Part of the FMCSA’s requirements include a thorough physical exam called a DOT physical (DOT stands for Department of Transportation). These exams are designed to get an overall picture of a driver’s health to ensure they are fit for the demands of trucking. For example, drivers with high blood pressure that is not strictly controlled may not be able to tolerate the health risks of sitting for long periods of time, which would stop them from obtaining an all-clear from their physical examiner.
It’s important to note that DOT physicals are not designed to punish anyone but rather ensure the safety of both the driver and the people that the driver is around.
Simply put, a DOT physical in Dallas is designed to help keep the roads safe. Driving a large truck is a large responsibility, and if a preventable accident happens, it can cost many lives. As an attempt to control what could be a dangerous situation, all commercial driver licenses can only be obtained after a DOT physical has been passed.
While these physicals are not terribly invasive, they do help a certified medical examiner get a good picture of your overall health. How do you look? How do you feel? How are your vitals? These are all questions a medical examiner must answer to clear a person’s DOT physical.
DOT physicals are not only for semi-truck drivers. They are required for anyone that:
– Transports hazardous materials
– Is required by law to display a hazmat placard
– Operates a vehicle that carries more than 15 people
– Is paid to operate a vehicle that carries more than 8 people or
– Operates a vehicle or vehicles that has a gross combination weight rating of over 10,000 lbs
Passing a DOT physical is often easy for most people looking to get into trucking. As long as you have no mental or physical conditions that require more frequent testing, a DOT exam medical certificate is good for 24 months.
If, for some reason, you have a mental or physical disorder such as high blood pressure or severe depression, a medical examiner may issue a certificate for less than 24 months, requiring you to come back sooner to be rechecked. This is simply for the health and wellness of both you and those around you, and is only to monitor a pre-existing condition.
If your medical examiner has determined that the person they have examined is physically and mentally fit to drive a commercial vehicle, one copy of the exam certificate will be delivered to both you and the FMCSA. The FMCSA copy will be delivered either electronically or by mail using a Medical Examiner’s Certificate form.
These physicals are easy to understand and are often no different than your regular yearly checkup at your primary doctor. It will consist of a few different parts, including a detailed survey about your health history. It’s important to fill out this form accurately. An answer that is less than perfect does not necessarily disqualify you from driving, and an accurate survey is important to maintaining your health.
Part 1: A Detailed Health History
This form will ask a variety of questions, such as:
– Surgeries you’ve had
– Tobacco, alcohol, and substance use
– Symptoms or conditions you currently or have had in the past
This form is readily available on the internet through FMCSA, and you can fill it out ahead of time to get a jump on your examination
Part 2: Physical Examination
After your form is filled out and you’ve provided all the necessary details, your examiner will perform a thorough physical examination. These are straightforward and familiar to most of us, and will test your:
– Heart rate
– Blood pressure
– Muscle response
And other health indicators.
Part 3: Urinalysis and Drug Testing
A urinalysis can tell a doctor or a lab tech many things about your body, including the health of your lungs, kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract. It also contains information about your blood sugar and other key health indicators. These tests are often used for drug testing purposes as well, and can detect trace amounts of many different substances, including methadone, opioids, marijuana, and methamphetamines.
Of course, some of these may be in your system due to various prescribed drugs to manage a variety of common issues, such as chronic pain and sleep issues, so a detection of any substance in your urine is not an automatic disqualification from driving.
In addition, it is likely that you’ll need to have blood drawn, especially if you have a preexisting condition that can only be detected with a blood sample. Sometimes, specialized tests like an electrocardiogram can also be involved, but these more advanced tests are not as common for someone who is in good health overall.
Above all, remember that these tests are not done to scare you! They are simply used to give a medical examiner a good overall view of how you are feeling as an individual. Even if you do not pass your first DOT exam, the conditions that made it so are often only temporarily roadblocks and not permanent ones.
What Would Disqualify Me During a DOT Exam?
Only a small percentage of drivers do not pass their DOT exam on the first try. Out of these drivers, many of them will pass on a second go-around once the condition has been corrected by a doctor.
Here are the most common reasons why a driver may be disqualified during a DOT exam:
– Certain heart conditions, such as reduced blood flow, chest pain due to heart disease, or high risk of forming a blood clot during long periods of sitting
– Epilepsy, or some disorders that cause a loss of consciousness
– Vertigo, or inner ear diseases that cause dizziness or balance issues
– Severe vision or hearing loss, or the inability to meet peripheral vision requirements or recognize the correct colors of traffic signals
– Unmanaged diabetes and high blood pressure (the medical examiner has the discretion in deciding whether to grant DOT certification for these conditions)
– Use of marijuana, even if a medical practitioner has prescribed it and is legally allowed to do so. The DEA prohibits the use of marijuana in all cases
– Excessive protein in the urine, or proteinuria (medical examiner discretion)
– Respiratory conditions
In some cases, a waiver or exemption due to certain conditions can be provided. However, though a medical examiner can provide a DOT certification, they cannot provide exemption or waivers. Only the FMCSA can directly grant an exemption or waiver for CERTAIN medical conditions, including vision, hearing, or well-managed seizure issues.
Preparing for Your DOT Physical in Dallas
One of the most important things you can do is be completely ready for your exam. There are several things that will make the exam super easy and fast (around 30 minutes). To prepare, make sure you have a good idea of any conditions you have, in addition to your medications and dosages. To make it easy, simply follow the checklist below:
– Photo Identification
– Medical Records
– List of medications (dosages/strength), over-the-counter and prescription
– Glasses, if necessary
– Heading aids, if necessary
– Copy of your most recent stress test if you have a heart condition
– Copy of your latest sleep test result if you have sleep apnea
– Contact information for all your doctors, including specialists and therapists
Come to your exam with a full bladder so that you can provide a urine sample.
Are There Any Risks Associated with a DOT Physical?
A DOT physical exam is essentially the same as any yearly physical you might get at your regular doctor. The doctor or medical examiner performing your exam will ask you questions about your health or specific items on your intake form, and some of these questions may be uncomfortable to answer, especially if you have had issues in the past. In addition, you may have to undergo a hernia test, which requires a medical examiner to place their hands around your midriff and pelvis.
Other than some physical discomfort and embarrassment, however, DOT physicals are typically non-invasive, straightforward, less than an hour, and not risky at all.
Looking for an excellent medical examiner that can get your DOT exam out of the way and you back to trucking? Dr. Neil is here to help. Contact us today to get our fast n’ affordable exam today!