What are DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions?

Becoming a commercial truck driver can have many benefits. The trucking industry is always looking for new drivers to keep America’s companies running. Without truck drivers, it is almost impossible for most companies to be as successful as they are. Being a truck driver is a very rewarding job, however it can be physically and mentally demanding. 

Spending long hours on the road, having to concentrate for extended periods of time, and staying in one position during your trip can be taxing on the body and mind. This is why having a career in truck driving will require you to receive a physical exam from the Department of Transportation (DOT). Due to the challenging nature of the job, there are several DOT disqualifying medical conditions.

The DOT Physical Exam

The DOT physical exam reviews an individual’s physical and mental ability to be a commercial truck driver. Due to the nature of the job, it is crucial that an individual be in their best physical and mental shape in order to handle their assigned trips. It is extremely important that a truck driver is not only qualified for the job, but that they are not a danger to themselves or others on the road. Operating a large truck is a difficult task, and being able to be mentally and physically present throughout an entire drive is vital to the safety of the driver, as well as others on the road. 

Many side effects of different DOT disqualifying medical conditions could result in an individual not being able to meet the physical and mental requirements of being a truck driver. Because of this, the DOT physical exam requires aspiring truck drivers to submit a personal health history record. If an individual submits a medical condition, it is ultimately up to the medical examiner to evaluate if an individual is cleared to drive. In certain cases, the medical examiner may disqualify someone for a certain period of time. In this case, they will need to be reevaluated at a later date. They will then potentially be given a medical card, certifying that they are able to drive. 

DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions

There are several medical conditions that may disqualify an individual from becoming a truck driver for a certain period of time or forever. Due to the nature of many of these conditions, they may disqualify an individual from being able to drive at all. Truck drivers are required to be in the best physical and mental shape possible, making the DOT physical exam a vital part of becoming a truck driver. Here are the medical conditions that may disqualify someone from receiving clearance to drive. 

Heart Conditions

Certain heart conditions will disqualify someone from becoming a commercial truck driver. These include a current clinical diagnosis of a heart attack, chest pain or discomfort due to heart disease, reduced blood flow through one or more coronary arteries, or risk of forming a blood clot. Taking medication for angina may not necessarily constitute disqualifying someone, however an individual will only pass the DOT physical exam if the angina is under control. 


Epilepsy or any other seizure disorder can disqualify someone from passing their physical exam. Epilepsy, as well as other seizure disorders can be extremely unpredictable and cause an individual to lose consciousness at any time. Truck driving requires drivers to be at attention for their entire trips due to the many stressful obstacles they may face. This ensures their own safety, as well as the safety of others on the road. Having a seizure disorder of any kind can negatively affect a driver’s ability to be fully attentive for their job. However, drivers who can demonstrate that their seizures are under control may be eligible to submit an application to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for an exemption. 

Inner Ear Disease

Inner ear diseases or disorders that cause vertigo are disqualifying medical conditions according to the DOT. Many of these disorders are very unpredictable and can cause vertigo and other balance issues at any time. This can inhibit a driver’s ability to correctly and safely drive during their entire trip. Due to the sensitivity of many inner ear diseases, many aspects of truck driving can trigger vertigo, as well as balance issues. Additionally, certain medications used to treat inner ear diseases have sedative effects that can also disqualify an individual. Medications will need to be approved before an individual is able to pass their physical exam. 

Vision and Hearing Loss

A driver must have optimal vision and hearing abilities in order to be able to safely drive. The DOT physical exam requires individuals to have at least 20/40 vision in each eye. The exam also requires drivers to meet peripheral vision requirements. 

In terms of hearing, it is vital that a driver be able to hear what is going on around them while operating a vehicle. Signals from other vehicles are incredibly important to be able to hear in order to stay safe on the road. The DOT exam administers two hearing tests with the first being a forced whisper test. If an individual passes this test, they do not need to complete the second. If they fail, they may still pass the hearing portion of the exam if they are able to complete the second test, an audiometry test. 

Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Respiratory Conditions

If an individual has insulin treated diabetes, they no longer need to apply for an exemption due to a new process created in 2018. Drivers with a stable insulin regimen and their diabetes under control only need to visit their doctor 45 days before seeing the medical examiner. In terms of high blood pressure and respiratory conditions, the medical examiner has final discretion. Many conditions related to high blood pressure and respiratory conditions are able to be maintained and may qualify for an exemption.

Use of Marijuana

The use of marijuana will disqualify an individual from passing the DOT physical exam. Even if the marijuana is recommended or prescribed by a medical professional, it is still disqualifying. This includes whether it is used alone, as CBD oil, or in any product derived from hemp or cannabis. 

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While an individual must be physically and mentally qualified to be a truck driver, it is also important that they receive driving education through a qualified CDL school. Truck Driver Institute has been training future truck drivers since 1973. We have the expertise and experience in order to have you prepared for any trip you may take during your future career in truck driving. Our instructors will provide you with the best training possible in order to qualify you to receive your CDL in as little as three weeks. Begin your new career path today with TDI!

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