What is a Department of Transportation (DOT) Physical?
All commercial drivers who operate under a CDL (Commercial Drivers’ License) are required by federal law to have a physical exam completed every two years by a certified medical examiner. Due to the high demands placed on commercial drivers, the exam is designed to detect any physical, emotional or medical issues that may prevent you from operating a commercial vehicle safely.
How can I get a DOT Physical Completed?
New guidelines since May 2014 state that only Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) certified examiners who are on the National Registry can complete this physical for you. Your local UrgentWay clinic has National Registry FMCSA certified examiners on staff who can complete this for you, but you can also use the link below to locate other examiners. Note that aside from physicians, FMCSA certified Nurse Practitioners, Chiropractors, and Physician Assistants are also allowed to complete your exam but you will need to check specific requirements of your state as not all states accept exams completed by other medical professionals.
What forms do I need?
The FMCSA medical exam forms were recently updated in December 2015. You can use the following link to access the current forms: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Medical-Examination-Report-%28MER%29-Form-MCSA-5875.pdf
Older versions of the form are still being accepted, but after 4/20/2016, only the above new form will be accepted by the FMCSA. This newer form has additional information required from the driver, such as extra health history questions, the need to specify what type of applicant you are (CLP, CDL etc.) and your driving territory (state or national). You will also need to sign a new privacy statement. The medical examiner’s portion also requires them to note new information such as the type of ID that you used, and if you were examined recently by a vision specialist.
What should I bring to the physical?
You will need to complete the first two pages of the FMCSA form, which asks about basic identifying information and medical history. (Your examiner will also have these forms but it will save time if you do this before your appointment!)
Make sure you bring:
- A list of your medications, doses, and prescribing physicians
- Glasses, contacts and hearing aids, if used
- A form of identification and your current CDL medical card
For those with special medical conditions, you may want to bring a clearance letter and the results of any recent tests (such as INR, EKG/echo and recent blood work) from your primary doctor or specialist if you are being treated for the following conditions:
- Heart issues
- Orthopedic issues (such as fractures, amputations or joint replacements)
- Recent history of a stroke, paralysis or other brain-related illness, or
- Any other chronic illnesses
If you are taking a blood thinner (such as Warfarin or Coumadin), using sedatives/narcotics that may make you drowsy, or taking any other medication that may make it unsafe for you to drive, consider bringing a clearance letter from your treating physician that states you are safe to operate a commercial vehicle with your current medical condition and medications.
What will the examiner be checking?
The exam is similar to an annual physical and will take 30-45 minutes to complete. The examiner will ask about your health history and discuss any medical concerns or medication side-effects you may be experiencing.
They will perform a physical exam and take a urine sample.
They will check your vision, hearing, blood pressure and heart rate. (Note that if your blood pressure is over 140/90, you may not be certified to get your card)
They may check your heart if you have any cardiac health issues.
The examiner will certify you for two years and will note if you need to wear corrective lenses or a hearing aid to drive. They will complete all the required paperwork and you will leave with your Medical Examiner’s Certificate on the same day.
If the examiner has any concerns about your medical conditions, you may only receive a certificate valid for a year or less and you will likely require a follow-up visit for monitoring of your condition.
I have my new Medical Examiner’s Certificate – now what?
You will need to check with your particular state as to how to submit your paperwork correctly to your State Drivers’ License Agency.
In New York State, completed Medical Examiner’s Certificates should be submitted to the Medical Certification Central Office one of three ways:
By Mail By Fax By Email
|Medical Certification Unit
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 2601
Albany NY 12220-0601
What if my current Medical Certificate has expired?
In many states, your CDL license may be canceled or downgraded to non-CDL immediately if you do not keep a current Medical Examiner’s Certificate on file, however in some states you may have a short grace period in which to gather the needed paperwork. You will need to check with your particular state’s requirements, but it is best to avoid all the headaches and hassle and come into your local UrgentWay for an exam several weeks BEFORE your medical certificate expires. You don’t need an appointment, although it is suggested.
How much will this cost me?
Most insurance companies will not cover the costs of obtaining a DOT physical but some employers will – make sure to check with them. DOT Physicals at UrgentWay clinics start at $110 and we accept cash, credit or debit cards.
Nathan Bradshaw is an expert marketer who specializes in promoting and growing physician practices. He currently works with UrgentWay to help improve their online footprint and garner interest in their Urgent Care, Occupational Health and Health services.