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Your DOT Exam Questions, Answered

Posted on Feb. 1, 2021 ( comments)

Is it time to renew your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certificate? You’re not alone!

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a waiver extension effective through February 28, 2021 for CDL license renewal for those licenses expired after March 1, 2020. At MultiCare Occupational Medicine, we are expecting more people than ever to renew their license this spring, so it’s time to plan ahead!

How long does a DOT exam take?

A typical DOT exam takes 45 minutes. This includes completing the forms, the physical examination and consultation, and printing your certificate. If there are no concerns or further referrals from the examining provider, our office will be able to certify you and issue your medical certificate.

What will be assessed at a DOT exam?

The following tests will be done during the course of your exam:

  • Vision Check using a Snellen Chart
  • Color vision check
  • Hearing check 
  • Medication check
  • Point of Care Urinalysis (aka “urine dip”)
  • Vitals check

What should I bring to my DOT exam?

Please bring the following items if they apply to you:

  • Glasses or contacts you normally wear while driving.
  • Hearing aids
  • List of all medications
  • A letter from your primary care provider to clarify which medications you are currently taking or no longer taking
  • Any documentation of medical conditions

What do I eat before a DOT exam?

Healthy eating habits, cutting down on caffeine, salt and sugar are recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prepare for a DOT exam.

What if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

Some medications can pose a safety risk and may disqualify you from obtaining a medical card.  If your Primary Care Provider is able to provide a letter stating the medication will not affect your ability to drive, you still may be able to obtain your medical card. If you have any of the following medical conditions, documentation must be brought to your appointment or submitted prior to scheduling. Missing documents may impact clearance.


Documentation Needed

Diabetes – Not Treated with Insulin

  • Last HgA1C lab (within past 6 months)
  • Letter from your primary care provider (PCP) confirming no history of insulin use, hypoglycemia episodes or complications.

Diabetes – Treated with Insulin

  • Exam appointments are limited to MultiCare Occupational Medicine-Kent.
  • Requires special documents completed and submitted to the clinic prior to scheduling your appointment. Documents can be downloaded from our website, or email request to [email protected]
  • WA School Bus Drivers: Bring all completed and signed pages in OSPI document #1643 to your appointment.

Sleep Apnea

  • CPAP compliance log (printed 90-day report) showing over 70% usage with over 4 hours usage / night. 
  • Letter from your treating medical provider stating (a) you are compliant with CPAP/APAP usage, (b) that you do not suffer from narcolepsy, and (c) that you are safe to operate a commercial vehicle given your diagnosis and treatment plan.

Heart Disease

  • Clearance letter from your cardiologist
  • Documentation of Ejection Fraction rate and possible Exercise Tolerance Test/Stress Treadmill


  • A letter from your primary care provider (PCP) confirming stable medication usage, no history of suicidal behavior or ideation, or recent hospitalization.

History of Alcohol or Substance Abuse/Rehabilitation

  • Letter from your SAP (substance abuse professional) stating no current clinical diagnosis and stable condition

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

  • A letter from your primary care provider (PCP) confirming stable dosage, no history of abuse or misuse of medication

Medical condition treated w/Coumadin or Warfarin

  • For example, Atrial fibrillation. Documentation of stable INR labs for the past 90 days.

How long will my DOT medical card be valid after the exam?

Regulations allow for medical cards can be issued for a maximum of 24 months. Shorter cards may be issued based on the Medical Examiner’s evaluation of your specific health conditions. This may be to allow time for you to bring documentation to from your Primary Care Provider or a treating specialist. A new DOT exam is always required to issue a new medical certificate, regardless of its duration.   

In some cases, the Medical Examiner may place your exam in official Pending Status. This basically pauses your exam for up to 45 days for you to return with health documentation. Pending status does not issue a medical certificate. You must return to the same clinic to complete your exam.

How can I schedule my DOT exam?

Appointments are preferred, but walk-in appointments are accommodated if there is availability in the schedule. MultiCare Occupational Medicine has 15 convenient locations across the state.

Inland Northwest: 833-602-8027

Puget Sound Region: 888-280-5513

Workforce Care You Can Count On

Designed to meet the needs of employers and employees, MultiCare Centers of Occupational Medicine provide all the services you need from employment physicals and screenings to injury and return to work care. 

Puget Sound: 888-280-5513

Inland Northwest: 833-602-8027

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About The Author

MultiCare Occupational Medicine
MultiCare Occupational Medicine provides comprehensive occupational medicine services for employers and employees, including employment physicals and screenings to injury and return to work care.  More stories by this author
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