Depending on your location, a DOT physical can cost anywhere from $100 to $140. For example, CVS will let you book an appointment for a DOT physical online ahead of time and tell you the expected price upfront.
If you fail your vision test, getting an eye exam is a good idea. Any optometrist or ophthalmologist can normally do these.
Feel free to use your private doctor, but eye exams must be done by a certified medical examiner to qualify as an official DOT eye exam. A driver’s company will typically require a physical to be done by doctors of their choosing.
The Driver Exemption Programs that govern the Federal Vision Exemption Program have recently undergone changes. Drivers looking for an exemption for monocular vision will undergo examination by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Getting an exemption will require meeting the Alternative Vision Standard, which has four parts:
Once the eye exam is completed the proper paperwork must be presented to a certified medical examiner who will make the final decision.
The form required is form MCSA-5871 (Vision Evaluation Report), which is only valid for 45 days. A Vision Evaluation Report will need some basic identifying information such as the driver’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number, and state.
This form can be used as part of a certified medical examiner examination. The provider will check “yes” to monocular vision on the MCSA-5875
In addition, a road test will be required for all drivers who are physically qualified for the first time. This road test takes place after the medical exam and the medical examiner plays no part in a road test. Typically, the employer (or motor carrier) will conduct the road test and issue a certificate 49 CFR 391.31.
Remember: the road test examiner doesn’t need to know about any monocular vision.
There are very few exemptions from the road test, but there are exemptions for drivers who have operated previously for three years with the same deficiency or have previously operated under various exemptions (such as 390.3T(f) or 391.2). Some drivers may also be exempt if they previously held a valid FMCSA exemption on or before March 22, 2022.
In rarer cases, drivers may be exempt if they were medically certified under 391.64(b) (Grandfather Provision).
Can you use eyeglasses during the exam?
Drivers that need glasses to drive should wear them when taking their DOT physical. This will be noted on the driver’s CDL , and the driver will be required to have them while driving at all times.
Are contact lenses allowed?
Yes, the test is the same whether the driver is wearing either eyeglasses or contact lenses. (But only wear contacts if you need them while driving.)
Does the DOT eye exam test night vision?
There is no specific test for night vision as part of a routine DOT physical. Those that are worried about nighttime driving should consult with a medical professional and look into solutions such as nighttime driving glasses. Such glasses can help reduce eye strain from glare and high-intensity headlights, billboards, streetlights, and more.
How is peripheral vision tested for DOT physical?
Your field of vision is typically tested at 70 degrees from your center to your periphery. For most DOT physicals, this is accomplished by the tester asking how many fingers they are holding in the driver’s periphery view.
What if I fail my DOT eye exam?
Don’t worry. You may be able to obtain your CDL with further restrictions such as using corrective lenses while driving, having restricted driving hours, or a license that expires sooner. Everyone’s situation may vary.
On failing your eye exam, Jopa, Truckee, CA:
I FAILED the eye exam (20-50 when the minimum is 20-40) and had to get glasses just to pass. With the glasses, I could read ALL the lines like a champ.
Might as well bite the bullet and get it done while you have the time. Finding an eye place and getting the glasses (1-hour type service) might be a whole lot more difficult at the school than in your hometown. . .. just sayin'
On passing at an older age, Errol V. Olive Branch, MS:
I'm 65, and my eye's lenses aren't so flexible. Waiting for my DOT physical, I read a magazine. Got called in for my vision check. I could barely make out any of those letters on any line 20 feet away, glasses or not!
Later I tried again, but while waiting I just looked down the hallway (keeping my distance focus) and passed.
Lesson: while waiting for your vision check, keep that distance focus.
On matching your CDL , Susan D. Central (I-65 Corridor), KY:
I had a trainee who had a similar situation. No restrictions but wore them for the DOT physical. Had to take her home to make her CDL match her company-provided DOT physical.
She had to go to the DMV and add the eyeglass prescription restriction to her CDL before she could resume training. Luckily, it only took a couple [of] hours, and she was able to come right back on the truck that same afternoon.
Sources to incorporate:
A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:
The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle
The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.
What Does The FMCSA Do?
A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.
State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.
A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:
The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.
When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.