How to Prepare for Your DOT Physical

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) makes regular physical exams mandatory for anyone whose occupation is deemed “safety-sensitive” — meaning your personal health can have an impact on your own safety as well as the safety of the general public when you’re working.   

A DOT physical follows strict guidelines set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help ensure that safety-sensitive drivers, such as those who have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), are healthy enough to perform their jobs safely.

Whether you operate a commercial truck, drive a bus, or transport hazardous materials, you’re required to undergo routine DOT physicals to maintain compliance and stay on the job.

At Family Practice Associates in Broomfield, Colorado, we understand that your livelihood hinges on the results of your DOT physical, and we want you to be as prepared as possible when you arrive for your appointment. Here’s everything you need to know.

What to expect during your DOT physical

The DOT physical exam is exhaustive and highly detailed; besides asking for your complete medical history, it also covers about a dozen different aspects of your current physical health.

To save time, you can fill out the first part of the DOT physical form, which asks specific questions about your health history, before you arrive for your appointment. There, you’ll indicate if you have a history of any significant medical problems, such as heart disease, epilepsy, and chronic pain, among others.

During the physical exam part of your appointment, Dr. Pamela Abrams checks for:

Important highlights of the DOT exam include:

Blood pressure

You’ll be checked for high blood pressure as well as an abnormal pulse. If your blood pressure isn’t below 140/90 during your exam, you may not qualify for a DOT card.  


In addition to checking your eyes for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, Dr. Abrams evaluates your visual acuity.

You’re required to have at least 20/40 correctable acuity in each eye. You’re also required to have at adequate peripheral vision in both eyes.


After visually inspecting your ears for scarring or a perforated eardrum, Dr. Abrams performs a hearing test.

You must be able to hear a forced whisper at a distance of five feet or less, with or without a hearing aid. This standard equates to an average hearing loss of less than 40 decibels.


The required urinalysis helps identify certain undiagnosed medical conditions, including prediabetes and diabetes.

What to bring to your DOT physical

It’s essential that you bring a complete list of medications you take, including dosages. You should also bring along the name, address, and phone number of your primary care physician, as well as the names and contact information of any specialists you see.  

If you require vision correction of any kind, you should bring your corrective lenses (contacts or eyeglasses), and if you’re hearing impaired, you must bring your hearing aids to your DOT exam.  

If you’re diabetic, you’ll need to bring your blood sugar logs and your most recent lab results from your hemoglobin A1C test. If you have sleep apnea, you’ll need to bring a copy of your latest sleep test results. If you have a diagnosed heart problem, you should bring a letter from your cardiologist that outlines your medical history, details your current medications, and indicates it’s safe for you to drive.

If you’re not sure whether or not a specific medical condition warrants supporting paperwork for your DOT exam, just give us a call before your appointment. Be sure to call well in advance to give yourself enough time to obtain any necessary letters or reports.

The morning of your DOT physical

Get plenty of sleep the night before your physical to ensure that you’re well-rested. Feeling rested and relaxed can help you focus better, especially during the vision portion of the exam.

If you have high blood pressure, remember to take your medication on schedule in the days leading up to your physical. Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, you shouldn’t consume energy drinks, coffee, tea, or soda on the morning of your physical, because caffeinated beverages can significantly raise your blood pressure. Avoiding salty foods and nicotine on the day of your physical can also help you get a better blood pressure reading.

Lastly, you’ll want to drink plenty of water just ahead of your physical, so you won’t have trouble providing a urine sample.

To learn more about how we perform the DOT physical at Family Practice Associates, call our office in Broomfield, Colorado, today or schedule your appointment online any time.

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