Medical DOT Cards: Everything You Need to Know

One of the things that most non-truckers fail to realize is just how physically taxing driving can be, and furthermore, how important it is to be in the right physical condition to drive. That’s one of the reasons why a physical health exam is required by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Medical cards need to be renewed every couple of years, so whether you are wondering “How do I get a DOT medical card for the first time?” or it’s time to renew and you need to refresh your memory on the requirements, here is everything you need to know about medical cards for truck drivers in order to get it right.

What is a medical DOT card?

The Department of Transportation requires a physical examination in order to qualify to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). While many truckers refer to a “medical DOT card” or “DOT medical card,” it is actually less of a card, and more of a document more accurately known as a Medical Examiner’s Certificate. It is awarded following a physical exam by a qualified medical examiner (ME).

What does a DOT physical exam consist of?

The DOT physical examination requirements involve filling out a five-page report that includes the following:

  • Medical history
  • Vital signs
  • Urine test
  • Hearing test
  • Sight test

After these things have been checked, and if you are sufficiently healthy, you will be awarded your certificate and cleared to drive for 24 months. In some cases, your ME may want to keep an eye on something such as high blood pressure, and you may be required to return for a follow-up before the two-year mark.

Who needs a DOT medical card?

If you are driving intrastate, the requirements can vary from state to state, so while you may need a DOT medical card in Utah, you may not need one if you live elsewhere. When it comes to interstate work,  you need a DOT medical card if you drive the following:

  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW), gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross combination weight (GCW), or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Vehicles designed to transport more than 15 people, or more than 8 people when there is direct compensation
  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials

It may also simply be something that a potential employer requires in order to be hired.

Can any doctor do a DOT physical?

Yes, any doctor who is listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry and is familiar with the qualifications can perform a DOT physical. Furthermore, the term “medical examiner” is expanded to include (though not limited to) doctors of medicine (MD), doctors of osteopathy (DO), physician assistants (PA), advanced practice nurses (APN), and doctors of chiropractic (DC).

If you have any further questions about the medical DOT card, the FMCSA is a good resource to get those answered. And once you have renewed your medical certificate, check out our career opportunities to see if you qualify to work with us. At Matheson, we also understand the importance of your health. That’s why all of our loads are no-touch loads, and we provide the option of comprehensive health benefits for full-time employees.