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Things To Know Before Getting A DOT Physical

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Certain people who drive for a living need to pass a Department of Transportation physical in order to get the necessary medical certificate to do this type of driving legally. Before attempting to get a commercial drivers license and a job that requires a DOT physical, it's a good idea to understand the requirements.

Who Needs a DOT Physical?

People who transport hazardous materials, those who drive a vehicle that weighs at least 10,001 pounds for interstate commerce purposes and those who drive between nine and 15 people for more than 75 miles for interstate commerce purposes all need to go to get a physical from a health provider that has been approved for this purpose.

Vision and Hearing Requirements

You need to be able to hear a whisper from about 5 feet away or hear sounds through headphones at 500 Hz to 2,000 Hz that are 40 decibels or less in order to pass the hearing portion of the exam. The DOT physical will also check your vision, which should be at least 20/40. Those who wear corrective lenses or hearing aids are allowed to do so during the physical.

Urine Test

The DOT physical also includes a urine test. Not only does this test for drugs, it also checks your blood sugar and blood protein levels. Blood sugar that's too high indicates potential issues with diabetes, while high protein levels in the blood show that you may have kidney problems. These issues would need to be corrected before you could get your medical certification. The test screens for PCP, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and opiates, none of which are allowed for commercial drivers.

Disqualifying Conditions and Medications

High blood pressure may not necessarily disqualify a person, but it can make it so they need to get DOT physicals more often. The typical certification is for two years, but those with this condition may need to be reexamined every 3 months or every year, depending on their blood pressure levels. People who have epilepsy, Meniere's disease, narcolepsy, untreated sleep apnea or sustained ventricular tachycardia are usually disqualified. Those with certain respiratory conditions, lost limbs or mental instability will need special clearance in order to pass a DOT physical. Drugs that shouldn't be taken while working as a commercial driver include any medication that can cause drowsiness, methadone, anti-seizure medications, medical marijuana, nitroglycerine or schedule 1 drugs. However, those taking nitroglycerine can sometimes get an exception depending on the report of their cardiologist.