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Department of Transportation (DOT) Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Medical Exams

Updated: Apr 29

Sunshine Community Health Center is certified to perform DOT medical exams. DOT is now requiring more information from you, the driver. Appointments will need to be scheduled and forms filled out prior to the scheduled appointment.

What is the DOT?

DOT stands for the Department of Transportation, a federal agency in the United States responsible for overseeing various aspects of transportation within the country. The DOT's primary responsibilities include regulating and ensuring the safety of roads, highways, railways, air travel, and maritime transportation. Additionally, the DOT establishes and enforces regulations related to vehicle safety standards, driver licensing, and transportation infrastructure. In the context of CDL/DOT exams, the DOT sets standards for medical fitness and requires certain commercial drivers to undergo periodic physical examinations to ensure they are physically capable of safely operating commercial vehicles.


What is a CDL?

A CDL stands for Commercial Driver's License. It's a specialized license required for individuals who operate large or heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses, or trailers for commercial purposes. To obtain a CDL, drivers typically need to pass written and practical exams to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in operating these vehicles safely. Additionally, drivers may need to undergo periodic medical examinations, known as DOT (Department of Transportation) physicals, to ensure they meet certain health and safety standards for operating commercial vehicles.


How often is a medical exam required?

The frequency of CDL (Commercial Driver's License) exams depends on several factors, including the driver's age, health status, and the type of commercial driving they do. Here's a general overview:

  1. Initial Exam: When applying for a CDL for the first time, a driver needs to pass a DOT (Department of Transportation) physical examination. This exam is conducted by a certified medical examiner.

  2. Periodic Exams: After obtaining a CDL, most drivers need to undergo a DOT physical exam every two years to maintain their certification. However, if a driver has certain medical conditions, they may need to renew their medical certificate more frequently, such as annually or even more often in some cases.

  3. Endorsements and Restrictions: If a driver holds specific endorsements or restrictions on their CDL, they might need additional medical exams. For example, drivers with a hazardous materials (HazMat) endorsement often need to undergo background checks and additional medical evaluations.

  4. Age-Related Requirements: Drivers aged 70 or older may need to renew their medical certificates more frequently. In some cases, they may need to renew it annually.

It's important for CDL holders to stay aware of their specific requirements for medical certification and to schedule exams as needed to ensure they remain compliant with DOT regulations.


Why are medical exams required?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires commercial drivers to undergo a medical examination known as a DOT physical in order to obtain or renew a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). This physical exam is conducted by a licensed medical examiner who assesses the driver's overall health and determines if they meet the medical qualifications set by the DOT.

During the DOT physical, the medical examiner evaluates various aspects of the driver's health, including vision, hearing, blood pressure, heart health, and overall physical fitness. The examiner also checks for any conditions that may impair the driver's ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, or certain neurological disorders.

If the driver meets the DOT's medical standards, they are issued a medical certificate, which is required to obtain or renew a CDL. This certificate typically needs to be renewed every two years, although some drivers may be required to renew it more frequently depending on their medical history or specific health conditions.


How to Schedule?

Need a CDL/DOT exam? Look no further! Ruth Rosentreter, MSN, FNP-C, is here to help. Catch her at our Willow Clinic most days, and at Talkeetna every other week for your convenience. Call 1-907-376-2273 (CARE) to schedule your appointment today

Please review the DOT guidelines below that are required for the appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothing be prepared to undress to a T-shirt and boxers/shorts.

  • If you take daily medications please be sure to take them as usual. In particular blood pressure and diabetes medications. It is recommended you take your medications at least 30 minutes before your appointment.

  • Bring ALL medications, vitamins, herbal and over-the-counter substances that you take to your exam

  • All drivers must bring the hearing aids, glasses, or contacts they use for driving.

  • If you have had any medical procedures since your last certification you will need to bring the records from that specialty clinic. These records will need to be available for review at your medical exam. The best way to do this is to sign a release of information for SCHC to get your records. This process usually takes 10 working days. Examples are endocrinology, surgery, physical therapy, behavioral health, hearing exams, eye exams, and drug and alcohol counseling with verification of the completion of all counseling.

  • If you are enrolled in any of the federal exemption/waiver programs, you must bring that letter to your exam. If you have lost your copy, you can obtain a new letter by calling (703) 448-3094 or by contacting

  • If the driver wants to enroll in any of the exemption programs they should be made aware, this process can take about six months. If accepted they are given a two-year exemption. All exemption program participants are allowed only a one-year medical certificate.

  • Vision exemption requires an annual eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

  • Insulin exemption: If you are a diabetic and you use insulin, you will need to provide records that pertain to your diabetes management for the last five years. The Insulin waiver program ‘grandfathers’ you from 1996.

For more information, please visit the DOT website or contact the following organizations.:

Office of Medical Programs Telephone: (202) 366-4001 E-mail:

Driver Exemption Programs (Diabetes, Vision) Telephone: (703) 448-3094 E-mail: Medical Review Board (MRB) Telephone: (703) 998-0189, ext. 204

Sunshine Community Health Center

1-907-376-2273 (CARE) *This article was written with the support of AI*



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