Why a DOT Card?

Why a DOT Card?

Why a DOT Card? – Heavy vehicles can be a nuisance for commuters and other drivers on the road, but there are some considerations to keep in mind. First, a DOT Card ensures that heavy vehicle operators follow safety regulations set by law that protect both their passengers and others on the roads around them.

Heavy vehicles cause many issues with pedestrians getting run over or being put into dangerous situations when they get stuck behind one of these trucks while trying to cross an intersection because it blocks traffic flow at times and causes delays.

Heavy truckers who do not have complied commercial driver’s licenses driving without their CDL card risk having fines imposed against them from $2,750-$25,000 plus 12 months imprisonment if convicted under 49 U.S Code § 31310(B).

You may have wondered what a DOT card for heavy vehicles is. Well, it’s not just any old piece of identification; the Department of Transportation has made sure that all other forms are necessary as well because they want to make things safe and straightforward!

The Department of Transportation (DOT) issues these cards to ensure safety on public roads by making specific drivers’ licenses and registrations up-to-date with current information. It also provides the driver can carry their proof while driving at night or inclement weather when reflective materials cannot be seen easily from afar like road signs are difficult to see during rainstorms.


The Importance of Getting Your DOT Medical Card

  • CDL drivers are required to obtain a DOT medical card. A DOT medical card is essential for professional drivers in most states. It is imperative CDL drivers learn as much as possible about these cards, the requirements, who needs one, and how they can get them. 
  • Adhering to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations is essential for all professional drivers. Often, drivers experience confusion about the process and are unsure of the steps they need to take to obtain their DOT exam and certification.
  • With this guide, CDL drivers will find it easier to navigate the system and obtain their health cards. This guide is meant to help professional drivers feel empowered to take charge of the process, so their careers can continue safely. 
  • What Is a DOT Medical Card?

  • A DOT Medical Card is a requirement for most professional drivers. Many truck drivers refer to the DOT card as a card, but it is really a certified health document. The Department of Transportation requires professional truck drivers to go through a physical examination before they can qualify to drive a commercial vehicle.
  • In most cases, certification is good for twenty-four months. With some health conditions, drivers may only be able to certify for twelve months at a time. Failure to keep up with these requirements leads to a driver becoming not-certified, which could lead to the loss of their CDL license. Depending on the state, drivers will be informed of their not-certified status and will have thirty days to comply or lose their CDL license. 

Why You Need a DOT Card

Drivers who operate in non-exempt commerce are required by law to submit their CDL Health Card. This document proves a CDL driver is healthy enough to operate a commercial vehicle safely. Drivers are checked for the following during a DOT physical. 

  • Full medical history
  • Urine testing
  • Hearing tests
  • Sight tests
  • Vital signs

A DOT physical results in a report that is filled out by the attending physician. If the driver passes the examination, they are granted their DOT HEALTH CARD.

Some drivers may be monitored for certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure. The medical examiner may require a driver to undergo further testing, start taking medications, and follow up, to ensure their condition is improving. 

It is important to note that not all states require a DOT EXAM. If a driver drives from state to state, they will likely need a card, to ensure they meet all the laws of each state they enter. 

Who Needs a DOT Card?

As stated above, not all states require a DOT Medical Exam, and some drivers may be exempt. It is important professional drivers know if they need to obtain a health card, so they can ensure they are meeting the stipulations of the law. The following offers information on who needs a DOT Card. 

Drivers who do Interstate work will need a DOT medical card if the following applies to them. 

  • Drivers who drive vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight, gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight, or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more will be required to obtain their DOT physical examination
  • Drivers who drive vehicles that are meant to carry more than fifteen people are also required to have a DOT CARD. If the driver is directly compensated, and the vehicle is designed to carry more than eight passengers, a DOT medical card is also required. 
  • Drivers who transport hazardous materials are always required to have a DOT EXAM conducted. 

It is important to note that employers can also require their drivers to have a DOT HEALTH CARD. Some transportation companies require this documentation before they will allow employees to begin driving. 

Medical DOT Waivers

If a driver is medically unqualified under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, they may be able to obtain a waiver to drive a commercial vehicle, depending on the state and the reasons for disqualification. 

To obtain a medical waiver, a driver will be required to go through the full application process. This process is outlined in Subpart B of part 381 under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Guidelines. 

The driver will need to send a written request to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator. A review will be conducted and the driver will either receive a declination or approval letter. 

If the waiver is granted, the driver is required by law to carry it in the vehicle at all times. It is also important drivers educate themselves on any laws in states they may pass through. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable reason for drivers not carrying a DOT card when required. 


What Is Involved in Obtaining a DOT CARD?

  • Commercial drivers need to be aware of the steps involved in obtaining a DOT medical exam and card. Being aware of the necessary steps is important for ensuring professional drivers have the necessary medical documentation to ensure they can continue to drive, by meeting the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. 
  • Many CDL drivers are confused about the process of obtaining a DOT MEDICAL CARD and may even be intimidated. By knowing what to expect from the steps, commercial drivers will be less stressed and will be prepared. The following offers extensive information on the steps that are involved in obtaining a DOT card. 

Scheduling the DOT Physical Examination

The first step in the process of obtaining a DOT medical card is to schedule a DOT exam with a licensed and certified medical provider. Years ago, any physician could conduct these examinations. In 2014, the laws changed. Now, all physicians performing DOT exams must be certified and registered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.


Before scheduling a DOT physical, drivers need to ensure their physician is properly registered and certified. Without this certification and registration, physicians cannot legally perform these required exams. 


The DOT Physical

The DOT physical is a thorough health examination. Drivers must pass this health examination, or they could be forced to give up their CDL licenses

The physician or medical examiner will check the driver thoroughly. They will perform testing to check for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. 


The examiner will perform urine tests and possibly blood tests.

They will also carefully examine the driver’s medical history, to determine if they will pass the exam. 

DOT exams are lengthy and require a report to be filled out by the medical examiner.

Once the examination has been completed, the medical examiner will be required to submit a report to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. If drivers pass the exam, they will receive a copy of their Medical Examiner’s Certificate, which meets all the requirements of the DOT medical card regulations. 

Follow-ups Every One to Two Years

Most CDL drivers are required to have a follow-up exam every two years, though some will need to be re-examined after one year, to renew their DOT cards. It is important to comply with the stipulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to ensure commercial drivers can safely operate their vehicles. 


How to Prepare for the DOT Physical

The DOT exam is a fairly straightforward examination, but there are some steps drivers can take to be better prepared. The following steps should help drivers to prepare for their DOT physical, so they are more likely to pass. 

  • It is important to avoid caffeine or any foods that may increase the driver’s blood pressure. Coffee, soda, and high amounts of sodium should be avoided before the exam because they can lead to false high blood pressure readings that could cause a driver to fail their exam. 
  • Drivers will need to be prepared to fill out an extensive medical history and provide information on any medication they take daily. It is wise to bring these medications to the exam appointment. 
  • It is also wise to attempt to relax as much as possible before the exam. High levels of stress and anxiety can cause blood pressure spikes. Undergoing the exam in a relaxed state is essential.

Penalties for Being Not-Certified

CDL truck drivers take a big risk when driving under a not-certified status. The penalties for not having a DOT card are serious. 

If drivers go through a weigh station or are pulled over by an officer, and fail to produce their DOT health card, they will be issued an out-of-service citation. With this situation can come hefty fees and sanctions. 

It is clear to see that avoiding following the rules and obtaining a DOT health card can be disastrous for professional drivers. To continue their careers, drivers must stay abreast of changing laws and ensure they are meeting the demands of each of the laws put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 


Seeking a DOT physical may seem like a daunting task, but it is really not difficult. It is important CDL drivers know the laws for their state and each of the states they travel through on the job. By following the above steps and heeding the information provided, professional drivers can obtain their DOT medical cards with ease.