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Preparing for your DOT Physical

Mar 15, 2023
Preparing for your DOT Physical
For your safety and the safety of others, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires physical exams for commercial drivers. If you need a DOT physical exam, knowing how to prepare makes the appointment easier. Here’s what you need to know.

Are you due for a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical and feeling worried or nervous about the process? At Triad Internal Medicine in Asheboro, North Carolina, our caring team is here to help.

Commercial drivers who operate a vehicle that could impact the driver’s safety or the safety of others are required to undergo a DOT physical exam by a licensed medical examiner every 24 months. As part of this exam, you’re required to meet the standards set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

Our practice offers DOT physicals and are familiar with the ins and outs of the process. We’ve curated this guide to help you better understand how to prepare. 

Get ready for your DOT physical

When you drive a commercial vehicle, the government puts rules and regulations in place regarding your mental and physical ability, both for your safety and the safety of others. Usually, you can get this information from your employer. 

However, you can also visit the FMCSA website to access it online. Reading over these guidelines in advance helps prepare you for what to expect from the DOT exam. With those in mind, here’s a look at some steps to take to prepare for your DOT physical: 

Consideration for chronic conditions

If you have a chronic condition (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, hypertension), you’ll want to schedule a visit with your primary care provider before scheduling your DOT physical. This allows your provider to check that your condition is being well-managed and gives you time to adjust your diet, physical activity, and medications if needed. 

If you have a medical condition that could impact your ability to drive, the DOT requires documentation that you’re under the care of a medical professional. By scheduling a visit to this provider, you can rest easy knowing you have all the necessary paperwork before your DOT physical exam.

Before your DOT appointment:

The DOT exam has strict requirements. You can take these steps before you come to Triad Internal Medicine for your DOT physical exam to ensure you meet them: 

  • Reduce your salt intake for at least a week before your appointment to help lower your blood pressure.
  • Eliminate or minimize caffeine for at least 24 hours before your physical to help your blood pressure meet guidelines
  • Quit tobacco if possible, or at least stop using it 24-28 hours before your appointment to improve your blood pressure 
  • Keep stress in check to keep your blood pressure managed by gathering all paperwork ahead of time and planning for extra travel time, so you won’t stress about being late 

You’ll also want to get plenty of sleep in the week leading up to your appointment, so your body is in top condition for your DOT physical.

The day of your DOT appointment:

To help your appointment go smoothly, be sure you take your regular medicines as prescribed, don’t eat a large meal right before your appointment, and drink plenty of fluids, so you can provide the required urine sample without stress. 

You’ll need to bring some things with you to your appointment and have all necessary paperwork in order. Here’s a review of what you’ll need the day of your DOT exam:

Diabetes and high blood pressure

For diabetes and high blood pressure, bring a list of all current medications, dosage information, and contact information for your primary care doctor.

Mental illness

The DOT requires you to provide a list of any mental health medications you take. Also, bring a letter with your treating provider’s medical opinion about your condition as it relates to your occupation as a driver.

Heart-related issues 

You’ll need a letter from your cardiologist summarizing your condition and any medications you take. If you've had a heart attack or heart surgery, bring a copy of your most recent stress test.

Sleep apnea

If you have any type of sleep apnea, bring copies of your most recent sleep study report. You’ll also need a letter from your doctor citing your compliance with treatment. And if you have a device, bring information about it to your DOT physical 


You should also bring a complete list of any other medications you take and have your medical history ready for review by your DOT physical examiner. 

If you’re ready for your DOT exam or have more questions about how to prepare, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Triad Internal Medicine in Asheboro, North Carolina.