You need to meet certain requirements set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to drive a commercial motor vehicle. DOT certification is one of the requirements.
Depending on the types of driving jobs you apply for, you may have to get a DOT certificate (also known as a DOT medical certificate or DOT card) before you can receive your CDL. Motor carriers require drivers to have a CDL because it serves as proof a job applicant has received DOT certification.
What Is DOT Certification?
Think of DOT certification as a seal of approval that shows you are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to operate a commercial vehicle. Becoming DOT certified ensures you and other drivers will be safe on the road. Be aware that there is a chance you could lose your license if you don’t meet DOT certification requirements.
Who Needs a DOT Certificate?
You will need a DOT certificate if you intend to carry out interstate commerce in a vehicle that weighs 10,000 pounds or more. You will also need a certificate if you transport 15 or more passengers, get paid for transporting eight or more passengers, or haul hazardous materials.
To get your certificate, you must pass a DOT medical exam and, depending on your state’s regulations, a series of safe-driving exams. Not every state requires DOT certification, however. Each has its own rules, so check with your local DMV for additional information.
What Is a DOT Number?
Companies that use commercial vehicles to transport people or goods across state lines must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have a DOT number. Also, commercial intrastate hazardous materials carriers who need a safety permit to transport certain types and amounts of hazardous materials must get a DOT number.
The DOT number is a unique identifier used to collect and track safety data from audits, compliance assessments, crash investigations, and inspections.
How Do I Get a DOT Card?
You must meet specific requirements to receive a DOT card as a commercial driver. It involves two steps: completing an application provided by the FMCSA and passing a DOT physical examination.
Schedule an appointment for a DOT physical exam with a licensed Certified Medical Examiner (CME). Only a DOT-approved doctor can do the exam and give professional drivers a medical clearance.
The CME will look over your medical history and do a complete physical exam to check for medical conditions. They will test your urine for kidney function and signs of diabetes or infections. They’ll also check your vital signs and give you a hearing and sight test.
The CME will submit a report to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners following the exam. Drivers who pass the exam will receive a copy of the Medical Examiner’s Certificate, required for a DOT medical card.
You become DOT certified and receive a DOT card once you complete these two steps, assuming your state does not also require a safe driving test. Certification lasts for up to two years. You’ll need to renew it if you want to keep driving.
The CDL School helps students get their DOT card [after CDL training]. Contact us to learn more about all the benefits we offer.