The DOT Physical for Truck Drivers

I just had my DOT physical today as a prerequisite for starting truck driving school and thought I’d write a quick post to let you know what it’s like. Most CDL training schools and all trucking companies (by federal law) will require you to pass a DOT physical before you start any truck driving job, and then again every two years. For those of you who want to know what’s involved with the DOT physical, here’s the scoop.

Overall, the physical is kind of a joke. I first had to fill out some paperwork and release forms so the medical facility could share the information with my training school. After that, I had a drug test done by way of urinalysis. I’m telling you guys, they don’t mess around with drugs or alcohol in this industry. Not only was I drug tested for the physical, but after obtaining my CDL I’ll be required to take random drug and alcohol tests. No matter what your views on drug use, drug testing, or drug prohibition are, even marijuana, realize that it’s not tolerated at all. If you smoke some marijuana during your home time, that can still make you test positive for the substance even 30 days after you smoked it and long after you’re impaired from it. Deal with it. It’s just not worth the risk. So if you’re getting into this industry, tell yourself right now that you’ll never drink and drive or use any illegal drugs. If you can’t live without doing those things, find a new career. Anyway, I don’t mean to preach or sound mightier than thou. Just use common sense when it comes to drugs and alcohol and there wont be any issues.

After the drug test, I took a quick vision exam. Cover right eye, read these lines. Cover left eye, read those lines. Using both eyes, read these lines backwards. Simple enough.

Next was a hearing test. They put me in a little sound proof box and had me put on headphones. The headphones broadcast 3 beeps in each ear separately. They are quiet beeps and are at different tones. When you hear the beeps, you push a little button so they know your heard them. They first tested my right ear. Three beeps at a lower tone, three beeps at a middle tone, then three beeps at a higher pitched tone. Then they did the same with the left ear. That was it!

Once that was done, they took my blood pressure and checked my heart rate. The doctor came in, checked my breathing, looked in my ears and throat, tested my reflexes, and was done.

That’s it! There’s really nothing to it! And best of all, I didn’t even have to take my pants off for the exam! This is the least thorough physical I’ve ever had, and that includes the physical I had for my office job. Nothing to be worried about. The physical from start to finish literally took about 10 minutes, including filling out the paperwork.

If you have any questions that I didn’t address, please feel free to email me or leave a comment and I’ll answer the best I can. But if you’re worried about the physical, just take a deep breath and relax. If you’re not drunk, don’t do drugs, can see, hear, and breath, you’ll pass.

Until next time, drive safely!


~ by truckermike on January 13, 2009.

12 Responses to “The DOT Physical for Truck Drivers”

  1. The only issues I know of that people run into is high blood pressure, diabetics, or prescription medications that may show up on the drug test. I don’t know the exact limits, but I know that people who are slightly diabetic can still drive. I don’t know the limits for blood pressure.

    If you’re taking any prescription meds you should let them know – I’m pretty certain they’ll ask you anyhow.

  2. Ah, yes that remindes me of one thing I left out. When you do the whole pee-in-the-cup thing, they use it for both a drug test and also test the amount of sugar to check for diabetes. So if you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you might want to call a recruiter, the DOT, or a medical facility that does DOT exams to see what the limits are.

  3. I’d wager the “limits” will vary slightly from company to company but I can say I just did a backround check and drug test to take an auditing job for a company hired by Best Buy. The drug test took a little longer to come back than Mike’s will, or most peoples for that matter. However, that is due to the fact that they found the drugs I’m perscribed, some of which are narcotics and some even have “street value” or so I’ve been told. The narcotics are to control my epilepsy. I’m not worried about they seizures since I’ve been siezure free for roughly 7 years and while I don’t know the CDL requirements I know to get a drivers license I only needed to be seizure free for like 2 years. Sorry got side tracked. Anyway, when they found the drugs they simply send it to another lab that can find out “how much” and verify it against my medical information, at least that’s what the company who hired me told me. As for alcohol I’m not supposed to drink on my meds, and I DON’T, literally until last year I wouldn’t even cook with it. As for illegal drugs I’ve never gone near ’em and have no interest to do so, heck I don’t even smoke lol. Sorry to hear your start date got pushed back, hopefully they’ll push the end date back instead of trying to “squeeze it in.” I look forward to reading your blogs on CDL training since I plan to go sometime this year.

  4. Can I get my DOT before I join a company?

  5. If I failed a DOT Pysical due to HBP last month at a trucking, am I doomed for ever on getting my CDL? Is that recorded on some kind of national data base? Is another trucking school going to know it?

    • Hi Ben.

      No, you are definitely not doomed at all when it comes to getting your CDL. Once you pass your physical, you’re good to go. Now keep in mind that every time you start a new job you will likely have to pass another physical. So if you take one for the schooling and pass it, you’ll have to take another one when you get hired by your first company. But passing is passing – it doesn’t matter if you’ve failed one before.

  6. Thanks, to be more specific, I went to a company that had there own truck driving school, had a bad feeling got stressed & Blood Pressure was thru the roof after a 36 hour bus ride 4 hours of sleep & nothing but junk food to eat, is my failing the physical due to the HBP on a national data base, i signed the dot card & etc. My blood pressure is good to go now, but should I mention what happened or keep my mouth shut.

  7. […] Unfortunately, we lost a few students yesterday. I think two of them were because they didn’t pass the DOT physical and two because of their background check. Central Refrigerated Trucking will not mess around on […]

  8. I really enjoy this blog, especially for the content about CDL training and life on the road. I am planning on going to trucking school this fall. I probably need to get a DOT physical first, since I am not sure I will pass. I was diagnosed with Menieres several years ago. However, at that time I lowered my sodium intake down and haven’t had an incident since. Does anyone know people in similar situations to mine? Thanks!

    • Hi George. We’re really glad you’re enjoying our blog!

      I’m not familiar with your condition, but w I would definitely recommend you speak with a doctor that does DOT physicals and ask him about the condition. Whether or not you’re taking medication will be a big factor in passing the physical. Normally the physical is a breeze. It takes like 10 minutes. The main things that people normally have problems with are high blood pressure or Diabetes. They also won’t let you drive if you’re Epileptic.

      Any physician that gives DOT physicals should be able to tell you over the phone if you’ll have any issues with your condition.

  9. Great Review of what a DOT physical consists of. I work for a Lab that performs them routinely in Kansas City. On the Diabetic part to my knowledge if you are taking insulin you will not be able to pass your physical. On another note, the reason that the check your eyes is to see the veins behind them. The eyes are the only external part on the body a physician can see your blood veins and they are a good indicator of your overall vein health.

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