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I failed the DOT exam, now what?

Failing the DOT Physical exam is not the end of the world!

Finishing your CDL training is just one step toward becoming a professional truck driver. Before you can get started on your new career, you’ll have to pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam. In fact, you will have to pass DOT exams several times throughout your trucking career. Drivers are required to undergo physical exams at least once every 24 months in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

But what happens if you end up failing the DOT physical exam? Good news⏤this is not the end of your trucking career. We share what you can expect at your first DOT exam, reasons someone may fail, and what to do if it happens to you!

What are they testing?

The DOT physical exam was designed to ensure that drivers are physically stable and healthy enough to be behind the wheel. Truck driving comes with a lot of responsibility, you need to be able to operate the vehicle efficiently and safely. The purpose of DOT physicals is to collect the applicant’s medical history in a short amount of time. You will be required to supply any significant medical history along with current medications or physical limitations.

It’s important that you be honest and answer all questions to the best of your ability. In addition to getting your medical history, the doctor is also going to examine the following:

  • Hearing
  • Sight
  • Blood pressure
  • Urinalysis
  • Spine, limbs, and extremities
  • Lungs
  • Abdomen
  • Equilibrium
  • Reflexes
  • Speech

Why did I fail?

There is a lot covered in these physical exams and of course, not everyone passes on the first try. There are many reasons a driver may fail the DOT exam, some things are within your control and others are not. A glitch in the urinalysis could be to blame or there you may have simply be deemed unqualified to drive a motor vehicle. There are a few reasons you could be considered unqualified to drive including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Epilepsy
  • Alcoholism or drug use
  • Missing extremities
  • Cardiovascular or respiratory disease
  • Diabetes
  • Poor eyesight or hearing
  • A nervous or psychiatric disease

Though you may fail the physical exam, it’s important to remember that there may just be something slightly off that you could correct. For example, if you have failed the eyesight or hearing tests of your DOT physical, you may be in luck! If your problem can be rectified with corrective lenses or a hearing aid, you will be able to prove your sight or hearing has been fixed. There are also exemptions that are put in place for these instances.

How can I pass?

Even though you may have not passed the DOT exam on the first go-round, you are not out of luck. Here are a few next steps:

  1. The first thing you should do is clarify why you failed the physical.
  2. Ask your doctor if they have any suggestions or what steps you need to take in order to pass. If you’ve failed it also won’t hurt to get a second opinion from another doctor. Knowing exactly what your doctor needs from you is going to help you obtain your goal.
  3. If the reason you failed is outside of your control, you may be eligible to receive an exemption if it can be proven that your safe to operate a large vehicle.

When it comes down to it, being able to pass DOT physical exams is an important part of your career in trucking. This will be a regular thing you can expect to face in the trucking industry.

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