DOT Physical & CDL Medical Card

Understanding The DOT Physical: Requirements Explained

The DOT Physical and truck driver medical qualifications for a CDL are discussed in this video. 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.
      Additional blood pressure standards:
    • 140-159/90-99 - 12 month certificate
    • 160-179/100-109 - 3 month temporary certificate
    • Over 180/110 - DOT disqualifier
    • 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.

Other Possible Medical Factors Impacting Your DOT CDL Physical

There are some other conditions or factors that may be revealed during the CDL physical exam that could prevent a driver from obtaining the DOT medical card.

Those conditions include:
  • Sleep apnea
  • A recent back injury
  • A recent major surgery
  • A current hernia

Note: These are just some basic guidelines and subject to change. If you have any concerns about the information mentioned above, contact your primary doctor to determine if you meet the DOT Physical requirements.

Ready To Get A CDL?

After you've passed a DOT physical exam, check out some of the great training and test prep courses and study aids we offer. Whether you need a Class A CDL or want to drive a school bus, we've got the some of the most effective study guides passing a CDL test.