What if I Fail My DOT Physical Exam?

What to do if you fail your DOT exam

If you are a CDL driver you must undergo a DOT physical at least once every 2 years, or 24 months. But what if you fail your DOT exam? Can you still get your license?

In some cases, you could still get your DOT license and continue driving a commercial vehicle. However, there are some steps that you will need to take to be able to get certified or re-certified.

DOT physical, Failed DOT medical exam, DOT second opinion

Why Did I Fail My DOT Medical Exam?

During a DOT Exam, a medical practitioner determines if you are medically fit to perform the job of being a commercial driver through one of the DOT agencies. Even if you feel like you are in good health there are a variety of reasons you might fail the exam.

Typically you are required to have a DOT physical exam every 2 years.  But if you have an underlying condition you may have to be checked out once a year or even every 6 months instead.

Some of the common medical conditions that can cause an individual to fail their DOT medical exam include:

  • Poor vision
  • Deafness
  • Narcolepsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • High blood pressure

Don’t stress yet though if you have one of these conditions. Having one of these does not mean you will automatically fail your exam. In most cases, if the condition is well managed medically or corrected (glasses or hearing aids) you will usually still pass.

DOT physical, Failed DOT medical exam, DOT second opinion

What to do After a Failed DOT Physical?

The first thing you should always do after a failed physical is to ask for clarification on what the reasoning was from the practitioner. Then ask the practitioner what steps you need to take or complete in order to pass the second attempt.

Next, look at why you failed. Is it due to something that can be corrected or changed such as your vision or hearing? If it is due to high blood pressure have a conversation with your primary care physician to get it under control through diet, exercise, or their recommendations.

If you failed due to something you can’t change, such as a loss of limb, you may be able to apply and receive a “variance“.

Getting a Second Opinion after a Failed DOT Exam

If you failed your first physical exam and addressed the steps above, per the FMCSA you are able to obtain a second opinion and be re-tested in order to get your medical card for your license.

When going for a second opinion or a re-take of your DOT physical remember that you MUST provide your full medical history without leaving anything out. That includes the information that led to your previous failure.

If, after a second opinion, you still don’t pass the physical exam then that is it. You can’t keep “doctor shopping” in order to get a passing exam. The medical examiner is required to upload results, even an incomplete test, to the FMCSA within 24 hours.

DOT physical, Failed DOT medical exam, DOT second opinion

How to Prevent Failing your DOT Exam

As always, be upfront with the practitioner that is doing your medical exam in regards to your medical history.

By doing a few proactive things you can make sure your regular DOT medical exam goes smoothly each time.

First, stay up to date with your family doctor and go to your yearly physicals. These are the perfect opportunities to get an overall screen to make sure your health is up to par and ready to pass the DOT physical.

Stay up to date on any medications and assistive devices such as hearing aids and corrective lenses. Not having the correct dosage of blood pressure medication could cause you to fail the test when it is a simple fix.

WorkSafe Physical Therapy is Your One Stop for ALL Your DOT Certification Needs!

Whether you are getting your first DOT physical, a renewal, or needing a second opinion WorkSafe Physical Therapy will be able to get you scheduled. We have a certified medical examiner on staff to complete your physical today.

In addition to DOT physical exams our office in Wichita, KS is also able to perform a federally regulated urine drug screen if it is required by your employer. We are your one-stop shop for commercial drivers!

Contact WorkSafe Physical Therapy to find out how we can help your company


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