What Employers and Their Employees Should Know About DOT Regulations

Eric Becker

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is the official governing body when it comes to commercial transportation, extending numerous agencies that cover aviation, railroads, highway systems, shipping and boating, pipelines, and vehicles. The U.S. Department of Transportation is a complex system that implements safety standards to protect both employers and employees.

Concentra is the leading medical provider within the DOT industry and conducts around 800,000 DOT physicals  each year. Our medical providers are specially trained to understand DOT rules and regulations and provide the guidance employers and employees need to navigate through the system. Here are a few things you should know about the DOT rules and regulations.

DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations* 

There are various transportation rules and regulations established by the DOT that must be met as part of running a successful business. Depending on your state and the governing DOT Agency, there are regulations that require certain employers to comply with drug and alcohol testing rules. Pilots, truck drivers, subway operators, ship captains, pipeline controllers, airline mechanics, locomotive engineers, and bus drivers are just a few of the various transportation employees that may require drug and alcohol testing.

Certain DOT tests include screening for the presence of alcohol and illegal substances, and may be conducted randomly by employers. As an employer you are allowed to have your own drug and alcohol testing program, but it must still comply with the appropriate DOT Agency regulations. DOT regulations state that an employee must complete testing for controlled substances, prior to performing safety-sensitive functions for an employer. DOT Agency rules may require employees to undergo pre-employment and random testing, reasonable suspicion/reasonable cause, post-accident, and return-to-duty, as well for follow-up.1

DOT Physicals

DOT physicals are highly regulated for the driver’s safety and to detect physical, mental, and emotional issues that can affect a driver’s ability to safely drive a commercial vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has very strict guidelines on what a DOT physical must include. Concentra’s medical examiners are specially trained to understand DOT regulations and prevent drivers from being inappropriately qualified or disqualified.

A DOT exam itself will test an employee’s vision, hearing, blood pressure/pulse rate, overall physical ability, and the presence of illegal drugs. Employees that complete a DOT physical are required to bring a complete list of medications they currently take, including the doses and the doctor’s name(s) and addresses. Those that wear glasses, contacts or hearing aids must also bring them to the DOT exam. The exam administrator must be made aware of any previous medical issues in order to properly evaluate an employee and certify them to be able to drive commercial transportation equipment.

Revised Forms

In 2015, the FMCSA revised its DOT exam forms. These forms include:

  • Revised Medical Examination Report (MER) form MCSA-5875
  • Revised Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC) form MCSA-5876
  • Revised Medical Examination Results form MCSA-5850

The previous versions of these forms were phased out on April 20, 2016, and the new forms are now required by law. As part of this federal update, interstate driver exam statuses have changed. There are two new exam statuses: “pending” and “incomplete.” If a driver is assigned the “pending” status, they will have 45 days to complete their exam. If they do not, they will be required by law to complete a new exam and new examination fee. If a driver’s exam is started and they leave for any reason not covered under the pending status, they will be assigned “incomplete” status and required to complete a new exam.


As the leading medical provider in the DOT industry, we spend countless hours studying the various rules and regulations associated with the industry. Our physicians are specially trained to provide the medical services you need to run a successful transportation business.

*This document is an overview and does not constitute legal advice.