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DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions

Written by Nick Webster

Published on Dec. 11, 2023, 2:24 p.m.


The list of DOT disqualifying medical conditions matters. A driver will risk injury or even death without knowing which conditions are on the list. That is why you must pay close attention to DOT regulations. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates certain medical conditions that may disqualify an individual from being certified as a commercial driver. These are known as DOT-disqualifying medical conditions, and they include:

  • heart disease
  • epilepsy
  • diabetes
  • vision loss

It is important to note that these disqualifications do not necessarily mean an individual cannot become a commercial driver; it simply means that the individual's condition must be evaluated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) before any certification can be granted. Read here about Starting a Trucking Company Correctly.

What Are the DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions?

Here are the main DOT disqualifying medical conditions:

• Vision that cannot be corrected to 20/40 in each eye

• Hearing loss so severe it interferes with the ability to understand and respond to emergency signals

• Seizure disorder affecting consciousness or control of a bodily function

• Insulin-treated diabetes mellitus

• Impairment of hands, arms, feet, or legs that substantially limits mobility

• Mental disorders characterized by symptoms such as distorted thought processes, hallucinations, and/or significant behavioral changes

• Substance abuse within the past two years involving alcohol or any other drug(s) other than marijuana.

What Do DOT Medical Examiners Do?

DOT medical examiners are certified to evaluate whether you meet the standards to be medically qualified to operate a commercial MC Registration versus DOT Credentialing Comparison or bus in interstate commerce. These exams aim to ensure that drivers do not pose a safety risk due to physical or mental conditions that may impair their ability to safely drive. During an exam, DOT medical examiners will review your:

  • medical history
  • tests results
  • vision screenings
  • hearing tests
  • urine sample collections

All of the above can help identify any potential conditions that may affect safe driving. In addition, the examiner may also discuss lifestyle practices with you that could potentially impair your judgment while on the road. You will need driver qualification files filed out by all employees who drive for you working. Also, take a look at what IRP or Apportioned Registration is.

Can a DOT Medical Examiner Disqualify You?

Yes, a DOT Medical Examiner can disqualify you from operating a commercial vehicle in the United States. A medical examiner must assess an individual's physical and mental capabilities to operate a commercial vehicle safely. If an individual fails to meet the standards of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), then the medical examiner may disqualify them from driving. Visit the DOT Authority Package, which contains tips to prepare for 2023 DOT Week filings in minutes. How do you get an Oregon Trip And Fuel Permit?

Various criteria must be met for a driver to qualify medically. These include:

  • vision requirements
  • hearing tests
  • cardiovascular health checks
  • drug or alcohol screening tests

Additionally, certain neurological conditions can affect fitness for duty as well as any physical impairments that would impede your ability to drive safely. The medical examiner will also review your complete medical history prior to making an official decision.

You Can Apply For an Exemption

If you have a condition that is listed by the FMCSA as disqualifying for operating CMVs, but your medical examiner and you both believe that you are well enough to drive, then you may be eligible for one of the FMCSA's Driver Exemption Programs. All applications must be submitted within 180 days and decisions will typically be made within the same timeframe. If approved, drivers can continue to use their commercial motor vehicles safely on the road.

What Do I Do If I Have a Missing or Impaired Limb?

If you have a missing or impaired limb and wish to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), you will need to obtain an SPE Certificate. The application for the certificate can be found on the FMCSA website, where information on renewing your current SPE is also available. As part of the application process, you must complete a road test that proves your ability to operate your CMV safely. Here is how to apply for an SPE Certificate:

  • Visit the SPE website and find the Certification” page.
  • Download the application form, complete it completely, and make sure all necessary documents are included (e.g., a copy of a valid ID).
  • Send your application to the address provided on the SPE website along with any required fees.
  • Wait for an email notifying you if you passed or failed your application.
  • If you pass, you will receive your certificate within 2 weeks after passing.
  • You may also be asked to take a short test in order to complete your certification process.
  • Once completed, you will receive a digital copy of your certificate via email.

Why Does a Driver Need a DOT Physical Exam?

A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam is an important requirement for anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle in the United States. It ensures that drivers are physically and mentally fit to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. For additional programs, check out MCS-150. Must visit FMCSA Hours of Service Suspended topics.

During the exam, a medical examiner evaluates the driver’s medical history and current condition to determine if they meet certain criteria set by the Carrier Licensing Check. The FMCSA requires drivers to pass a DOT physical every two years or sooner if required by their employer. The purpose of the DOT physical is to assess whether a driver has any conditions that could interfere with their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

How Do I Set Up a DOT Physical Exam?

• Check with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure you qualify for a DOT physical exam.

• Gather all the necessary paperwork, including any forms and applications from the DOT, as well as any medical history forms or other documents required for a successful physical.

• Contact your local DOT office to find out what type of testing device is necessary for administering a DOT physical exam. This could include items like an ophthalmoscope, audiometer, spirometer, blood pressure cuff, and other equipment.

• Ensure that your facility meets the criteria set forth by the DOT regarding privacy, cleanliness, and safety standards.

• Make sure you have enough time available

What Medical Conditions Can Disqualify Commercial Truck or Bus Drivers?

Here are common medical conditions that could lead to the disqualification of commercial truck and bus drivers across the United States:

  • Cardiovascular conditions, such as a heart attack or pacemaker implantation.
  • High blood pressure that is not well controlled with medication.
  • Seizure disorders and epilepsy.
  • Diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, is not well managed.
  • Vision problems that cannot be corrected to at least 20/40 vision in each eye with glasses.
  • Hearing impairment that does not meet the minimum requirements for commercial drivers.
  • Mental health issues and substance abuse disorders.
  • Musculoskeletal impairments that interfere with the ability to operate commercial vehicles safely. This can include back problems, joint pain, or chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Also, take a look at the Drug and Alcohol Program policy. What is DOT Clearinghouse Enforcement?

Can You Have Mental Illness and Be a Truck Driver?

Yes, you can have a mental illness and be a truck driver. Mental health is just one factor that the Department of Transportation (DOT) considers when determining whether someone is fit to drive commercially. According to the DOT, drivers must demonstrate good physical and mental health to ensure they are able to operate their vehicles safely. As such, people with mental illnesses can still become truck drivers as long as they satisfy all other requirements of the DOT’s Medical Certification Program. Read about Texas DOT Numbers and USDOT Numbers. Learn here How to Prepare for a Compliance DOT Audit.

In addition, many companies now provide mental health support for their drivers on the road. This includes:

  • proactive measures like training programs
  • access to counseling services
  • reactive measures such as emergency response systems for those who are in crisis
  • phone support
  • online support

What Are Some of the Most Common DOT Medical Conditions That Can Disqualify You?

  • Mental Disorder: Mental illness can cause significant impairments in cognitive, motor, and social abilities that may interfere with a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
  • Diabetes: Truck drivers are an essential part of our economy. Yet, their long hours on the road can take a toll on their health. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, truck drivers have a 50% higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than the general population.
  • Seizure Disorders: Seizures can be caused by physical trauma or disease—including epilepsy, stroke, and brain tumors—and can result in a sudden loss of consciousness, involuntary muscle jerks, or other physical symptoms.
  • Substance Abuse: Use of illegal drugs or misuse of alcohol or prescription medications can significantly impair judgment and reaction time while driving.

• Vision Impairment: Visual impairment due to reduced acuity, contrast sensitivity or peripheral vision problems can make it difficult for drivers to see obstacles on the road.

Contact Us If You Have Questions About DOT Medical Conditions

Our organization knows that medical disqualifications for CDL drivers in 2023 can seem confusing. What medical conditions disqualify you from driving is a crucial issue for all CMV operators. Our experts are standing by to inform you what medical conditions disqualify you from getting a CDL. We can go over medical disqualifications for CDL drivers that pertain to this year or previous years. This way, you can understand the medical conditions that disqualify you from CDL acquisition. This knowledge will help you recognize if you have a disability for failing DOT physical tests and assessments. What is Unified Carrier Registration?

Summary: How To Check for DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions

  • DOT-disqualifying medical conditions are any medical conditions that may prevent a person from safely operating a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Common DOT disqualifying conditions include epilepsy, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, poor vision, and hearing loss.
  • Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your medical history and current health status to determine if you have DOT-disqualifying medical conditions.
  • Your doctor can determine if any of your medical issues could affect your ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle and advise whether it would be safe for you to do so.
  • In some cases, the FMCSA may require that all drivers submit to an exam by a certified FMCSA medical specialist. Visit BOC-3 to know more.
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