DOT Physical Exam: Who Needs One and How Often?

Who Needs a DOT Medical Certificate and When?

Commercial drivers need to maintain a DOT physical exam on file with the Department of Transportation. Drivers in certain states may need to have an exam more often than others. In this blog post, we will discuss who needs a DOT physical and how often they are required to have one.

Who is Required to have a CDL License?

What is a CDL License?

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a type of driver’s license issued to drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). A CMV is defined as:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR), or gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross combination weight (GCW) of 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater;
  • Is designed to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
  • Is designed to transport 16 or more people including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in quantities requiring the vehicle to be placarded.

For more details and an in-depth review of the requirements for different types of CDL licenses go here.

Do ALL CDL Licenses require a DOT physical?

In the state of Kansas and most states, it depends on what you are driving and where you are driving. Here is a flow chart from the state of Kansas to help you determine when you need a medical exam.

You are required to have a DOT physical if:

  • You transport hazardous materials
  • You operate a vehicle that carries more than 15 people
  • You are paid to operate a vehicle that carries more than 8 people
  • Operate a motor vehicle for interstate commerce with a GCWR, GVW, or GCW of over 10,000 pounds

What is a DOT physical exam?

A DOT physical exam is an examination conducted by a licensed “medical examiner” to determine whether or not a driver is physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

The medical examiner will review the driver’s medical history and conduct a physical examination. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that the driver does not have any physical, mental, or emotional conditions that could impair their ability to drive safely.

When do you need to get a DOT physical exam?

A DOT physical exam is required every two years for drivers who operate vehicles that fall under the DOT’s jurisdiction and meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards.

If the driver meets standards, but periodic monitoring is required for certain conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, sleep disorders, and other conditions that are qualified under the exemption, then a medical certificate will be issued for a limited time period. Depending on the condition the period could be 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, or some other time limit.

What happens if you don’t get a DOT physical exam?

If you are required to have a DOT physical exam and you do not get one, you will not be able to operate a commercial motor vehicle. This could result in a loss of income and potential legal penalties.

There are exemptions and things that can be done if you fail your DOT Physical as well. It is your responsibility as a CMV driver to keep your medical certificate up to date and supplied to the proper authorities.

How do I get a DOT physical exam?

You can get a DOT physical exam from any licensed medical examiner who is listed in the registry at the FMCSA. The other option if you are in the Wichita, KS area is to schedule your physical at WorkSafe Physical Therapy.

How much does a DOT physical exam cost?

This will vary from location to location but expect between $75-$150. At WorkSafe Physical Therapy a DOT physical exam is $75 for a medical exam only. If you are needing a urine drug screen (Federal Drug Test) in addition to the physical, this will be an additional $50.

If you have any questions about the cost or what is included in your DOT physical, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

When and Why You Need a DOT Medical Examination

A DOT physical exam is required for any driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle. A DOT physical is valid for 2 years and must be renewed more frequently depending on the driver’s medical conditions. You can get a DOT physical from any licensed medical examiner who is listed in the registry at the FMCSA.

To get scheduled for your DOT Physical Exam give WorkSafe Physical Therapy in Wichita, Ks a call today!

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


Working to keep you safe, healthy, and productive,