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Why Your Drivers Should Pass DOT Physical Exams Before Getting Behind the Wheel
Mariah Barr
6 mins read

It's not federally required for drivers to pass a DOT medical exam before switching jobs, but it can help trucking companies get ahead on DOT medical card requirements.

The FMCSA does not require CDL drivers to pass DOT physical exams before starting new jobs. But more and more employers are requesting their new drivers to do so. Should you follow the trend?

By adding DOT physical exams to your pre-employment checks, you can...

  1. Maximize the validity of a CDL driver's medical examiner's certificate
  2. Ensure the new driver is healthy enough to operate your commercial motor vehicles (CMVs)
  3. Build a compliant driver file for a new driver (and be proactive with your DOT record keeping requirements) from the moment you hire them

If any of these reasons sound promising to you, keep following along.

Ensure Your New Driver's Medical Certificate is Valid

Commercial vehicle drivers regulated by the DOT are required to pass a DOT physical at least once every two years (or more, depending on any medical conditions they may have). But if you hire a driver whose medical card technically won't expire for even a few months, you'll still need to worry about scheduling a DOT physical exam for them before that expiration date creeps up on you.

Instead of risking a driver being caught with an expired medical card  which is a DOT violation with a maximum fine of $16,864  you can schedule a DOT medical exam for them during the pre-employment process.

If they pass and do not have any medical conditions that need to be monitored, their medical certificate will be valid for 24 months. You won't need to schedule their next DOT physical to meet DOT medical card requirements for a long time!

Check On Your New Driver's Health

The purpose of a DOT medical exam is to ensure a driver is considered healthy enough to operate a CMV, according to the professional opinion of an FMCSA-certified medical examiner. If you wait to schedule a DOT physical for a new driver until their medical certificate expires, you could be in the dark about any new medical conditions they may have developed, potentially putting them and other drivers on the road at risk.

Requiring new drivers to pass a DOT physical exam before getting behind the wheel of your CMVs ensures you're aware of any health conditions they may have. Plus, it gives you insight into if they need to be examined more often than every 24 months due to these conditions.

What does a DOT physical consist of? Find out in this Foley article: The DOT Physical – Everything You Need to Know

Create a DOT-Compliant Driver File for a New Driver

Once you decide to hire a CDL driver, the FMCSA requires you to create and manage a complete driver file for them, which contains specific documents.

One of those documents is the medical examiner's certificate we discussed above. Renewing this certificate through a DOT medical exam allows you to ensure:

  1. Your driver has one, and
  2. Their driver file contains the most updated version of their medical certificate, based on the Commercial Driver's License Information System motor vehicle report (CDLIS MVR) you need to obtain on all new drivers.

After your new driver passes their DOT physical exam, you can then have peace of mind that their driver file contains updated recordkeeping documents  setting up your company for success if you're selected for a DOT compliance audit.

Need some more clarification on the CDLIS or driver file DOT record keeping requirements? These Foley resources may help:

Why You Must be Running CDLIS Checks on Drivers

Your DOT Driver Qualification File Checklist 2023

Webinar: How to Manage Digital Driver File Recordkeeping (Without Going Crazy)

Easier DOT Physical Exams Start Here

Now that you know why so many employers who rely on CDL drivers are adding DOT physical exams to their pre-employment requirements, it's time to join the club. But first, you need a reputable DOT physical management program and you may be closer than you think.

Foley's DOT compliance software manages both driver DOT medical exams and driver file documents to ensure you're meeting the latest DOT record keeping requirements. Our program allows you to schedule DOT physicals, keep tabs on medical card expiration dates, and create driver files in one platform. You'll never be left wondering if you're compliant in the eyes of the DOT.

Schedule a free demo of our compliance software now, or fill out the form and one of our experts will reach out to you. Pre-employment and ongoing DOT compliance is easier with Foley on your side. 

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