A DOT (Department of Transportation) physical is an evaluation carried out in order to operate a commercial vehicle. This ensures that every driver is fit to perform the duties associated with commercial driving.

The DOT physical follows strict guidelines that are determined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). The DOT physical should be conducted by a certified FMSCA medical examiner to ensure that high-quality standards are met in the most walk-in hospital in America. According to the USNews marijuana is one of the abused drugs by commercial drivers.

When are these tests done?

  • Pre-employment
  • Random testing

This is usually done quarterly.

  • Return-to-duty testing

This is usually conducted after a violation of drug and alcohol rules. The driver will be subject to unexpected testing at least six times in the first year.

  • Follow-up testing

This occurs after the return-to-duty tests. It can go for up to 5 years.

  • Reasonable cause testing

This is done when trained supervisors suspect that the driver is under the influence of drugs.

  • Post-accident testing

This occurs after the driver is involved in an accident that meets specific DOT criteria. An alcohol test occurs within 8 hours following the accident and other drug tests are taken within 32 hours.

Here is an overview of what to expect on a DOT physical appointment.


Drivers are expected to bring a complete list of their medication and the names and contact details of their doctors. They should fill out a health history questionnaire before they walk in clinic.

Drivers who have a medical history should carry appropriate items such as:

  • Eyeglasses or contacts
  • Hearing aids
  • Most recent lab results and blood sugar logs for those with diabetes

What the DOT Physical Consists of

  1. Physical examination

The driver’s current state of health that takes into account both the mental and physical is assessed.

The physical examination covers the following categories:

  • General appearance.
  • Eyes-cataracts, glaucoma.
  • Ears – perforated eardrums, scarring of the tympanic membrane.
  • Mouth and throat for breathing problems.
  • Neurological tests for coordination and asymmetric deep tendon reflexes.
  • Lungs and chest for impaired respiratory functions.
  • Musculoskeletal tests to determine limitation of motion.


Blood pressure

The professional medical checks the driver’s pulse rate for high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.

3. Vision

It is a requirement that drivers have at least 20/40 acuity in each eye. This is with or without correction.

4. Hearing

Drivers should be able to perceive a forced whisper at a distance of 5ft or less. This is with or without using hearing aids.

5. Urinalysis

A urinalysis is carried out to look for indications of underlying medical conditions like diabetes.

6. Drug Test

According to The independent one in every ten drug users in the US have traces of cocaine. Most DOT Drug Tests use urine samples and a 5-panel list to test:

  • Cocaine metabolites
  • Marijuana metabolites
  • Opioids (morphine, heroin, codeine, oxycodone, phencyclidine)
  • Amphetamines