What Now: What Happens if You Fail a DOT Exam

December 15, 2021
by Dot Exam Locations
What Now: What Happens if You Fail a DOT Exam

Passing a DOT physical, commonly called a DOT exam, is an important step for commercial drivers. During a DOT exam, a medical practitioner determines whether or not you are medically fit to operate a commercial vehicle.

However, there are a variety of reasons why you might fail a DOT exam, even if you feel you’re in good health. If you recently failed a DOT exam, it can be a stressful experience, as you rely on this certification to make your living. So, now you’ll want to know what’s next and what options do you have. And, while it is natural to be concerned about failing this physical exam, there are things you can do to move forward and get back on the road.

Reasons You Might Fail the Exam

In most cases, you will be required to pass a DOT physical every two years. If you have an underlying health condition though, such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, you might be required by your medical practitioner to take the exam annually.

Either way, each time you are screened by a medical practitioner, there are a few reasons why they might fail you.

According to Healthline, common medical conditions that can lead to a DOT exam failure include the following:

  • Poor vision
  • Deafness
  • Narcolepsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

It is worth noting, however, that not all of these conditions will guarantee a failure of the exam. In fact, many underlying health conditions, if managed properly, are not a cause for concern.

If you happen to fail the DOT exam due to a medical condition, don’t give up. Instead, focus on what you can control and your next steps.

What to Do After Failing a DOT Physical

If you fail a DOT physical, the first thing to do is to make sure you understand why. Don’t hesitate to speak with your medical provider about the reasons why they decided to fail you. This information can be extremely helpful as you try to determine what your best option is.

If you failed the DOT physical due to an underlying health condition, your next step should be to discuss with your doctor what options you have for managing the condition. For example, in the case of diabetes, as long as you can demonstrate that you are managing the condition in a way deemed acceptable by a healthcare provider, you can go on to pass the DOT exam. Similarly, managing heart disease, hypertension, and lung disease can allow you to pass your next exam.

If you failed the DOT exam, and believe that it was due to an unfair analysis of your health, your best option is to schedule a second exam with a different DOT physical provider. While there are specific standards that are outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) in regards to what is required to pass the exam, there are still portions of the physical exam that are left up to the discretion of the medical examiner.

Keep in mind that if you do schedule a follow-up DOT exam with a different provider, you must provide accurate information to them about your medical history. You cannot omit information that you believe led to your initial failure. It is also important to note that whether you pass or fail, the information will be shared with the FMCSA.

Preventing a DOT Exam Failure

While it is entirely legal to retake the DOT exam, the reality is that no one wants to undergo the stress of failing and trying again if it isn’t necessary. The best course of action is to take a proactive approach to pass the exam the first time.

For starters, make sure to take good care of your health. The goal of a DOT exam is to contribute to safety on the road by ensuring that those responsible for operating large commercial vehicles can do so without issue. The better you take care of your health, the less concern you will have as you schedule your bi-annual exam.

Make sure to:

  • Eat a healthy diet and get ample amounts of exercise
  • Visit your doctor annually for a physical exam
  • Take prescribed medications according to your doctor’s instructions
  • Manage any health concerns early-on
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol
  • Quit smoking if you currently smoke

Additionally, when you show up for a DOT exam, make sure you are prepared with information about your medical history. If you have an underlying health concern but are managing it with the use of medication, be sure to bring that information with you. When you let the doctor how you are managing your health conditions, you can prevent an unnecessary failure.

Finally, while it can be stressful to schedule a DOT exam, and it is easy to become concerned about failing the physical, try to find a way to relax beforehand. Perhaps by spending time with family and friends, or going on a nature walk. Do something that will help calm your mind before you show up for your physical. And, remember, most medical practitioners want to work with you to help you pass. The goal is simply to keep you and others safe.

Need to Take a DOT Exam Again?

If you failed your DOT exam, and you need to reschedule your test with a different practitioner, finding another DOT physical provider is simple. Through a quick online search for a CDL exam location, you can find a medical provider that offers this service near you.

In most cases, once you find a new DOT exam provider, you can quickly schedule your exam online or over the phone.