CDL Training

Are There Any DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions?


Passing a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical is a crucial requirement for obtaining and keeping a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This exam evaluates both the physical and mental fitness of individuals aiming to become commercial truck drivers.

The DOT physical ensures that drivers are in optimal physical and mental condition to handle the demands of their job safely. Given the challenges of operating large trucks, it’s essential for drivers to be fully present and capable throughout their journeys, ensuring their safety and the safety of others on the road.

Various medical conditions can disqualify individuals from meeting the necessary standards for truck driving. As part of the DOT physical, aspiring truckers must provide a personal health history record. The medical examiner assesses this information to determine if the individual is fit to drive. If a medical condition is identified, the examiner may temporarily disqualify the individual, requiring a reevaluation at a later date. If cleared, the individual receives a medical card, certifying their ability to drive.

What are DOT Disqualifying Medical Conditions?

DOT disqualifying medical conditions are health issues that may hinder an individual’s ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle. These conditions pose a risk to the driver, passengers, and other road users. To obtain a CDL, applicants must undergo a thorough medical examination conducted by a certified medical examiner. During this examination, any existing medical conditions are assessed to determine if they meet the DOT’s standards for safe driving.

Medical Conditions that Disqualify You from Obtaining a CDL

Several medical conditions can disqualify individuals from obtaining a CDL. Some of these conditions include:

1. Epilepsy: Individuals with a history of epilepsy or seizures that affect consciousness are generally not eligible for a CDL.

2. Vision Problems: Severe vision impairment, including blindness or significantly reduced vision, may disqualify an individual from obtaining a CDL.

3. Heart Conditions: Certain heart conditions, such as severe coronary artery disease or heart failure, may disqualify individuals due to the potential risks associated with driving long hours.

4. Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes requiring insulin for management may face restrictions or disqualification, depending on the stability of their condition and compliance with treatment.

5. Hearing Loss: Severe hearing impairment that compromises the ability to hear warning signals or communicate effectively while driving may disqualify applicants.

6. Mental Health Disorders: Certain mental health conditions, such as severe depression or psychosis, may disqualify individuals due to the potential impact on decision-making and cognitive function.

7. Substance Abuse: History of substance abuse or dependence, including alcohol and illegal drugs, may disqualify applicants due to concerns regarding impaired driving. This includes the use of Marijuana. Learn more about drug use and truck driving.

8. High blood pressure. Medical examiners are provided guidelines, but also may use discretion in deciding whether to grant certification. Learn more about DOT physical blood pressure requirements.

List of Disqualifying Medications for CDL

In addition to medical conditions, certain medications may also disqualify individuals from obtaining a CDL. These medications may have side effects that impair cognitive function, motor skills, or alertness, posing risks while driving. Some examples of disqualifying medications for CDL include:

1. Narcotic Pain Medications: Opioid medications such as oxycodone, morphine, and codeine may cause drowsiness and impair judgment, making them unsuitable for individuals operating commercial vehicles.

2. Sedatives and Hypnotics: Medications prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders, such as benzodiazepines and certain sleep aids, may impair alertness and reaction time, posing risks while driving.

3. Antidepressants: Certain antidepressant medications may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or blurred vision, affecting an individual’s ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely.

4. Antipsychotic Medications: Drugs used to treat psychosis or severe mental illness may have sedative effects and impair cognitive function, making them unsuitable for drivers.

5. Antihistamines: Some over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines used to treat allergies may cause drowsiness and impair alertness, posing risks while driving.

What to Do if You Fail Your DOT Physical?

If you have a history of epilepsy or seizures, or if you have hearing problems that are usually considered as medical conditions that disqualify you from the DOT (Department of Transportation) standards, you might still have a chance to get an exemption from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). These exemptions only provide relief from regulations for drivers planning to operate Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce, which involves crossing state boundaries. They don’t exempt you from requirements within a single state (intrastate).

You’re eligible to apply for an exemption if you don’t meet the standards for seizures or hearing and can’t get a medical card without restrictions. To apply, you need to submit an application with details such as medical examinations, expert opinions, work history, driving experience, and vehicle records. FMCSA will review your application and give a final decision within 180 days.


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