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The DOT Physical: Common reasons for failing

Introduction: If you're a commercial driver or aspiring to become one, you're likely familiar with the Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination. This mandatory checkup ensures that commercial drivers are physically fit to operate large vehicles safely. Failing the DOT physical can have significant consequences, including the suspension of your commercial driver's license. In this blog post, we'll explore the most common reasons for failing the DOT physical and offer insights on how to prevent them.

High Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a leading cause of DOT physical failure. Commercial drivers are required to have their blood pressure within acceptable limits, typically around 140/90 mm Hg. If your blood pressure consistently exceeds this threshold, you may have your certification time reduced or even fail the physical. To prevent this, monitor your blood pressure regularly, make healthy lifestyle choices, and consult with your healthcare provider if needed.

Vision Problems:

Good vision is crucial for safe driving, and the DOT physical includes an eye examination with at least 20/40 vision in each eye independently. Failing this portion can result from poor vision, color blindness, or insufficient visual acuity. To avoid vision-related failures, ensure you have regular eye checkups, wear corrective lenses if necessary, and follow your eye doctor's recommendations.

Hearing Impairments:

Adequate hearing is another essential aspect of safe driving. If you have hearing loss that prevents you from hearing a forced whisper at a distance of five feet or less, you may fail the hearing portion of the DOT physical. Regular hearing tests and addressing any hearing issues promptly can help prevent failure in this category.

Medication Use:

Certain medications can disqualify you from passing the DOT physical. Common culprits include medications that can cause drowsiness, impair alertness, or affect coordination. It's essential to communicate openly with your healthcare provider about your job requirements and potential medication side effects. They may be able to adjust your treatment or find alternatives that won't jeopardize your DOT physical.


Diabetes, especially if not well-managed, can be a disqualifying condition for commercial drivers. To pass the DOT physical, you must demonstrate that your diabetes is under control and that you're not at risk of severe hypoglycemia or other complications. Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, a balanced diet, and compliance with your treatment plan are crucial. If you use Insulin, before your physical, you must have the 5870 form filled out by the prescribing doctor and bring it with you. Dr. Caminez can provide this form to you. Call us at 423-842-2435

Sleep Apnea:

Sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops and starts during sleep, can lead to fatigue and reduced alertness while driving. If you have sleep apnea and it's not adequately managed, it could lead to a DOT physical failure. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, consult with a sleep specialist and follow their recommended treatment plan, which may include the use of a CPAP machine. If you use a CPAC machine, you are required to bring the previous 90 days of data showing that you are using the machine at least 70% of the time and at least 4 hours per night.

Substance Abuse Issues:

A history of substance abuse or a positive drug test can result in immediate disqualification from obtaining or maintaining a commercial driver's license. It's essential to stay drug-free and seek help if you're struggling with substance abuse issues.

Failing the DOT physical can be a significant setback for commercial drivers. However, with proper health management, regular checkups, and open communication with healthcare providers, many of these common reasons for failure can be prevented or addressed. Remember that your health and safety, as well as that of others on the road, depend on your ability to meet the DOT's physical standards. Make sure to prioritize your well-being to ensure you can continue your career as a responsible and safe commercial driver.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call Dr. Caminez at 423-842-2435

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