DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions: Passing a CDL Physical

Aside from skill performance evaluation, a CDL medical card is required to be qualified to drive and operate a commercial motor vehicle. Qualified drivers can help prevent CMV-related fatalities and injuries, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Unfortunately, sometimes commercial trucking drivers do fail their DOT physical. A medical examiner may determine that you do not have the required health status to complete your job safely. If you are in a similar situation, there is no reason to be uneasy. There are practical options.

DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions

The DOT physical covers all areas of your basic health. Perfect health is not the requirement for a CDL certificate. However, you do have to be healthy enough to drive a vehicle safely. Here are common medically disqualifying conditions that may prevent a truck driver from acquiring a DOT medical card:

  • diabetes
  • sleep apnea
  • epilepsy

During the DOT physical, the certified medical examiner will also look if you have heart disease and high blood pressure, weight problems, as well as check for other brain conditions like epilepsy or strokes. These conditions require more than the use of a simple accessory to improve. If you have any of these conditions, you may be at risk of failing your DOT physical.

If you have diabetes, you might still be able to get a short-term certification so that you can take a couple of weeks to get your blood sugar level under better control. Use this period of time to visit specialists, talk to your doctor, and make healthier choices. Once you feel ready, come back to your local Statcare location to get tested again.


Obviously, if you can’t see well, there’s no reason why you should be qualified to operate or drive a CMV or commercial motor vehicle. But you can wear your glasses during your DOT physical examination.

If you wear glasses and you do fail the vision section of your DOT physical, it’s probably because your prescription is outdated. Your medical examiner will refer you to a vision specialist. With the correct prescription glasses, you can then take the DOT physical again.


Similar to the vision test, you don’t have to rely on your natural hearing. If you have a hearing aid, you are free to use it during the DOT physical.

During the test, the medical examiner will check to see whether you can hear a forced whisper from five feet away. CDL drivers who are unable to hear the whisper will be given an Audiometry Test at no extra charge.

If you have hearing loss, you will need to take additional hearing tests to pass the DOT physical.

Short-Term Medical Certification

Short-term medical certifications are given by certified medical examiners to commercial drivers who could not pass their DOT physical. They allow you extra time to get these medical conditions under control.

Most short-term medical certifications are valid for three months. In this time frame, you have to prove that you are fit to perform the duties of your truck-driving job. You are only allowed to have one short-term medical certification at a time.

Getting a Second Opinion After Failing the DOT Physical

Because the DOT physical is a standardized medical exam, each medical examiner should arrive at the same conclusion, no matter what location you take the test, what time of day it is, or your relationship with the doctor.

However, the Department of Transportation allows drivers to get a second opinion if they think something went wrong during their exam, and the medical disqualifications that cause them to fail their DOT physical are confirmed.

Tips to Pass The Dot Physical

The best way to avoid failing a DOT physical is to take care of your health. Listen to your doctor’s advice and make the healthy choices we all know we should be making. That may include eating right, stretching after driving a CMV for long distances, and taking a break during a long haul to get your heart rate up.

In addition to keeping an eye on your general health, if you have specific medical concerns, bring them up during your DOT physical exam. Make sure that you arrive at your appointment with all of your necessary paperwork and be honest about your medical history. If you have a note from your primary care doctor, or a specialist, regarding your current condition, bring it to your appointment.

If you notice that you’re experiencing a change in your health, before or after the exam, we encourage you to stop by our urgent care. Let our trained medical staff determine what might be wrong and the ways to treat you. Take control of your health beginning today. Our Statcare doctors are always ready and willing to help you.

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