Posted on September 23, 2015
The Department of Transportation (DOT) now requires some drivers to get regular physicals to make sure they can drive safely. All commercial driver license (CDL) and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) holders must provide information to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regarding the type of commercial motor vehicle operation they drive or expect to drive. Drivers operating in non-excepted types of commerce will be required to submit a current DOT medical examiner’s certificate to the NC DMV to obtain a “certified” medical status as part of their driving record.
If any of the following apply to you, you must get a DOT physical and carry a DOT medical certificate when you drive a commercial vehicle:
- You are paid to operate a motor vehicle that holds nine to 15 passengers; you drive the vehicle more than 75 miles from where you report to work; and you operate this vehicle for interstate commerce purposes;
- You operate a motor vehicle with a gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, gross vehicle weight rating, or gross combination weight of at least 10,001 pounds; you operate this vehicle for interstate commerce purposes; and
- You transport hazardous materials in certain quantities.
A DOT physical examination must be conducted by a licensed medical examiner listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. So where do you go to complete this exam? Look no further than Coastal Carolina Health Care (CCHC) and its FMCSA-certified providers: Martin DeGraw, MD; Mary Kirby, MD, Frances Bailey, FNP-C; Jessica Hale, PA and Jennifer Jenkins, PA.
What to Expect
Your DOT exam will include the following:
- Past or recent illnesses or injuries;
- Review of current medications, including controlled substances;
- Review of medical conditions such as heart disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.;
- Physical exam;
- Blood pressure and pulse;
- Vision acuity test;
- Hearing test;
- Urine dip screen;
- Kasper report and possibly a urine drug screen (if taking controlled substances);
- If required, other tests for cardiac or pulmonary and respiratory conditions.
The basic requirements for passing a DOT physical exam are:
- At least 20/40 correctable vision in each eye as well as both combined. Glasses or contacts are allowed.
- Needs to be able to distinguish colors found on traffic signals.
- Forced whisper test to detect adequate hearing.
- Controlled blood pressure under 140/90. Prescription medication may be used to control blood pressure.
- Cannot have diabetes that requires insulin injections.
- Maximum blood sugar level allowed is 200.
- No use of a schedule I drug (controlled substance), amphetamine, narcotic, or habit forming drug.
- For any exemptions for vision, diabetes, etc., bring the exemption to your physical exam.
Preparing for Your DOT Exam
- Bring your completed DOT Form to your visit along with your driver’s license and pocket certificate.
- Bring your glasses, contacts, or anything you routinely use for vision.
- Bring all prescription medication bottles that you take including over the counter medications.
- Bring a list of doctors that you see and their phone numbers.
- Take any required medications prior to your visit, including blood pressure meds.
- Drink plenty of water. You’ll be required to give a urine sample to screen for kidney problems.
- If you have any of the conditions below, bring the requested items.
- Diabetes: Bring a list of medications and the name of your prescribing doctor. Bring copies of your blood sugar results or hemoglobin A1C results from the past three months.
- High blood pressure: Bring a list of medications and the name of your prescribing doctor.
- Heart condition: If you’ve had a heart attack or cardiovascular disease, bring a copy of your last stress test or release from your cardiologist.
- Sleep apnea: Bring a copy of your latest sleep study results if you have one.
Pass or Fail?
The most common reasons for failing a DOT physical are high blood pressure and uncontrolled sugar in your urine. Both conditions can commonly be controlled and managed.
Another reason for failing a DOT exam would be having any condition that would cause a loss of the ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely, including the loss or impairment of limbs, poor vision, insulin controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, epilepsy, mental disorders, or use of certain drugs.
DOT medical cards are typically issued for two years. However, your medical examiner may issue a card for one year if you have a medical condition that requires monitoring, such as hypertension.
If you fail your medical exam, your medical examiner may issue you a three-month medical card and have you return for further follow-up, to be sure that your medical issue is now controlled.
Drug testing is not a typical part of the DOT exam, but may be required by your employer.
If you require a DOT physical or any other business-related health care solutions, trust the providers at CCHC’s New Bern Family Practice or Urgent Care. In addition to DOT physicals, our doctors also offer:
- Specialization in worker’s comp—providing prompt treatment seven days a week;
- Employment physicals;
- Drug screening: Pre-employment, random, and post-accident;
- Pulmonary function tests;
- Alcohol breathalyzer testing;
- Audiograms, EKGs, labs, and X-rays; and
- An in-house medical review officer.
New Bern Family Practice and Urgent Care has the largest number of Medical Examiners under one roof in the area. We understand the need for businesses to operate with healthy employees and offer fully-integrated health care solutions for the dynamic industrial landscape of Eastern North Carolina. Certified medical examiners include: Martin DeGraw, MD; Mary Kirby, MD; Frances Bailey, FNP-C; Jessica Hale, PA and Jennifer Jenkins, PA. Call (252) 634-5920 or (252) 634-5913 for more information.
(Sources: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, U.S. Department of Transportation)