How Is a DOT Physical Different from an Annual Exam?

Mar 16, 2023
How Is a DOT Physical Different from an Annual Exam?
A DOT physical is a specialized exam you need for driving certain commercial vehicles — but why can't you have an annual health exam? Keep reading to discover the difference between a DOT physical and an annual physical exam.

People who drive commercial vehicles require a specialized exam to be safe and healthy on the road. If you need a DOT exam, you might wonder how it differs from your annual physical exam.

The team at Highway Integrative Health Center in Davenport, Florida, provides DOT exams to those in the community. Our team comprises two primary and urgent care specialists — Dr. Jose Lopez-Chevres and Dr. Yaritza Arriaga O'Neill.

Who needs a DOT physical?

The Department of Transportation exam, or DOT exam, is a specialized physical exam for people who drive commercial vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates and requires the exam.

How do you know if you require a DOT exam? If you're an employee of a commercial vehicle company, you need a DOT exam before you can drive one of the vehicles. Other reasons you need this exam include the following:

  • You drive a vehicle that has a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds
  • You drive a vehicle that needs a placard for carrying hazardous materials
  • You drive a vehicle that can hold 15 people or more
  • You have a job where you drive a vehicle with more than eight people

The FMCSA designed this exam to ensure every commercial vehicle driver is mentally, physically, and emotionally stable enough to drive on the road.

What is involved in a DOT physical?

The DOT exam is a specialized exam that our team performs when you need to ensure your health as a commercial vehicle driver.

There are several aspects you should expect from your DOT physical, and they include the following:

Medical history

During your DOT exam, we review your medical and family history. Your medical history allows us to determine what medications you're on, any surgeries you've had, and any chronic conditions you're suffering from.

We also ask you about any symptoms you're currently experiencing. You must be honest about tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drug use during your exam.

Physical exam

The next part of your DOT exam is the physical exam. We take your height, weight, and blood pressure during the physical exam. We also examine your general appearance and test your vision and hearing.

We include a complete physical exam in your DOT physical. We evaluate every body aspect, including your heart, lungs, and abdomen. We look for abnormalities in your joints and your nervous system. We also take a look at your gait.


A urinalysis is a necessary aspect of your DOT exam. It allows our team to evaluate your health through certain urine elements, including glucose and protein. We also check your specific gravity and if there's any blood in your urine.

These results allow our team to determine if you need additional testing for chronic diseases like diabetes or kidney problems.

Sleep apnea exam

During the medical history exam, we ask about sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea or have the symptoms of sleep apnea, we may order additional testing to determine if you're suffering from this condition.

How the DOT exam differs from an annual physical

An annual physical is an exam your general practitioner performs to keep track of your health. Anyone can have a yearly exam, which is vital to your health and wellness.

During your annual exam, your doctor reviews your medical history and discusses any health concerns you may have. The doctor then performs a detailed physical exam, looking for bodily or health abnormalities.

An annual physical exam aims to find chronic diseases early on and ensure your health is on track. Yearly exams are the best way to stay ahead of chronic issues or keep chronic problems from getting worse without treatment.

On the other hand, DOT exams are explicitly meant for people who drive certain vehicles. The DOT allows a specialized examiner to determine the health and wellness of the person driving a commercial vehicle.

The goal of the DOT exam is to ensure the health and safety of the driver and the safety of everyone else on the road with the driver.

Some aspects of the DOT exam are similar to your annual physical exam. However, only some people can perform a DOT exam. We also include other tests in your DOT exam, including a urinalysis and hearing testing.

Your DOT exam is performed every two years, whereas your doctor should perform an annual exam yearly.

To schedule your DOT physical, call our Davenport, Florida, office at 689-600-1542, or request an appointment online using our convenient booking tool.