Can any doctor do a DOT physical?

Posted on April 16, 2009 

I had a good question from a customer today. Can any doctor do a DOT physical, or can only specially “DOT-certified” doctors do the examination? Presently, any doctor can do the DOT physical. However, the doctor needs to be familiar with the guidelines of the examination. For example, a driver must have 20/40 vision in each eye to pass. He must have 140/90 blood pressure or better. Some doctors do the exam, but are unaware of this, and qualify drivers with blood pressure over 140/90. The instructions are on the examination form, but a few doctors do not read the instructions.

You should ask whether your doctor is familiar with the DOT physical procedures before you make the appointment. DOT has been making noise about setting up yet another regulatory-bureaucracy which will qualify doctors to conduct the exams. For now, though, any doctor can do the exam, provided they follow the guidelines found on the examination form.


16 Responses to “Can any doctor do a DOT physical?”

  1. Jack Wolf on December 16th, 2010 10:49 am


    When you say “The instructions are on the examination form, but very few doctors are going to take the time to read that, I would imagine.”

    You might imagine, but as a physician, I know the opposite is true. Most doctors will read what they are doing.

    We are conscientious practitioners, and I would never think of signing my name to any exam that I hadn’t read. Now most MDs may not read the entire detailed DOT instructions unless they run into something questionable, but the vision and BP requirements are right on the form and cannot be missed and it is hard to imagine any MD ignoring them.

    Jack Wolf MD, Graham, NC
    Doing DOTs for 25 years

  2. Eric Arnold on December 16th, 2010 11:40 am

    Dr. Wolf: I’m glad you do the DOT physicals correctly. And you have a point about making my point with too broad a brush, so I have edited my original post. However, I have seen repeatedly, medicals where a driver has a blood pressure of over 160/90, and the driver is given a 2 year medical, without following the steps listed on the form for high blood pressure. Or, a driver who has 20/60 vision, and is given a 2 year medical. When DOT finds these type of things, they take little or no action against the doctor, rather, they fine the motor carrier for using an unqualified driver. These are not common occurences, but they do happen.

  3. Larris Noble, D.C. on June 15th, 2011 5:24 pm

    In my first few years in practice I had several drivers comment that they had never had so thorough a physical as I had given. I believe in recent years that most doctors have become more thorough and the physical has been modified and better organized to make it more efficient for the doctor to use. I recently had a driver with Bp of 200/150. He did not pass and could not even qualify for a 90 day temporary certificate.If I as a chiropractor try to do a sloppy physical I risk losing that privilege for the profession.

  4. Donna on November 30th, 2011 9:05 am

    Thanks for the information! My hubby thought there were only specific doctors that could do the DOT physical but thanks to you I called our regular doctor & he does them :)

  5. Debbie on January 31st, 2014 6:36 pm

    Will the guidelines change in 2014 requiring a special certification in order to preform DOT physicals

  6. Eric Arnold on February 19th, 2014 4:27 pm

    Short answer: I don’t know. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  7. Doyle G. Ellis on March 26th, 2014 10:50 am

    I had my physical done by a doctor who has been doing them for some time.He read and qualified my physcial but he does not appear on the national registery. At this time will I still be legal or are they now enforcing this rule?

  8. Eric Arnold on April 12th, 2014 4:01 pm

    It is legal. Any medicals done after May 21, 2014 will need to be done by a registered doctor.

  9. Greg on April 14th, 2014 5:50 pm

    i have a dot doctor for the last 3 cards now my company is trying to force me to go to there dot doctor and i said no can they force me or fire me

  10. Eric Arnold on April 23rd, 2014 10:02 am

    As of May 21, doctor will have to be registered with FMCSA in order to do medicals. So, it’s possible your doctor is not listed on the FMCSA registry. That aside, usually an employer reserves the right to make its employees use its doctor, if the employer chooses. Hope that helps.

  11. Michael Tigges on May 10th, 2014 7:36 am

    Beginning May 21st, 2014.

    A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination is conducted by a licensed “medical examiner.” The term includes, but is not limited to, doctors of medicine (MD), doctors of osteopathy (DO), physician assistants (PA), advanced practice nurses (APN), and doctors of chiropractic (DC).

    To find a medical examiner to conduct the DOT physical exam you may contact your primary care provider to inquire if they will conduct a “DOT physical exam.” You may also find a medical examiner in the yellow pages of your telephone book, or on the Internet by using an Internet directory or search engine. Look under “Occupational Health.” If your medical examiner does not have a Medical Examination Report, one may be downloaded.

    A DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months. The medical examiner may also issue a medical examiner’s certificate for less than 24 months when it is desirable to monitor a condition, such as high blood pressure.

    49 CFR 391.43(f) Blood Pressure (BP)

    “If a driver has hypertension and/or is being medicated for hypertension, he or she should be recertified more frequently. An individual diagnosed with Stage 1 hypertension (BP is 140/90–159/99) may be certified for one year. At recertification, an individual with a BP equal to or less than 140/90 may be certified for one year; however, if his or her BP is greater than 140/90 but less than 160/100, a one-time certificate for 3 months can be issued. An individual diagnosed with Stage 2 (BP is 160/100-179/109) should be treated and a one-time certificate for 3-month certification can be issued. Once the driver has reduced his or her BP to equal to or less than 140/90, he or she may be recertified annually thereafter. An individual diagnosed with Stage 3 hypertension (BP equal to or greater than 180/110) should not be certified until his or her BP is reduced to 140/90 or less, and may be recertified every 6 months.”

    Michael Tigges DC, CME

  12. Eric Arnold on May 16th, 2014 10:44 am

    Is that a question?

  13. Jo Gonzalez on January 13th, 2015 1:25 pm

    Please notify me how our Physician may certify for DOT phys. We have been doing DOT physicals for years and we were never informed of any changes until recently.

  14. Eric Arnold on January 22nd, 2015 1:47 pm

    I think this link should take you to the webpage with all the instructions for an examiner to be qualified by FMCSA.

  15. gregory dabrowski on March 8th, 2016 3:41 pm

    can a Physician who is certified to give an FAA Phisical [Pilot License] also perform a DOT physical?

  16. Eric Arnold on March 10th, 2016 9:49 am

    Probably not. I’m pretty sure that Physician would have to register separately with the FMCSA in order to conduct FMCSA physicals. So, if he is registered with the FMCSA, then yes, he can do FMCSA physicals.

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