CDL Medication Use: Don’t be Disqualified! – Part 1

If you’ve been denied a CDL medical examiner’s certificate because of medication use, you may still be able to be medically qualified to drive. As President of the largest network of DOT Certified Medical Examiners, I frequently get calls from drivers who have been disqualified for medication use.  Unfortunately, this almost always causes a major disruption in the driver’s ability to making a living, and the sad part is that most of the time, it was done in error.

There is only 1 time when medication use is always disqualifying:

If you are using Marijuana (with or without a prescription) or another of a long list of Schedule I drugs, you will always be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle. These specific medications are in a special group called “Absolute Disqualifiers”. This means there are NO EXCEPTIONS whatsoever to this rule.

The use of insulin, Chantix, Methadone, and Saboxone is no longer disqualifying.

Medications as they relate to treatment of a medical condition:

Keep in mind that if a driver is using any drug to treat a disqualifying medical condition, it will be the medical condition that will cause the driver to be disqualified, not the medication being taken.  An example would be a driver taking Methadone or Saboxone for opioid addiction.  If a driver was taking either medication for pain relief, the driver could be qualified to drive with a letter from their treating provider stating that they are safe to operate a commercial motor vehicle. However, with a current clinical diagnosis of opioid addiction (not in remission), the driver would be disqualified.

Most other medications can be considered:

The good news is that, with the exception of  “absolute disqualifying” medications, all other medications can be considered for use in commercial driving. There are still a few restrictions that apply to certain medications when used to treat certain medical conditions.  Drivers with a history of stroke cannot be taking anticoagulant medication.  And if you are taking an anti-seizure medication to prevent seizures you are only allowed to drive across State lines if you obtain a Federal Seizure exemption.  If you only drive within your State, you should check your State medical requirements for driving a commercial vehicle when taking these medications.  Most State exemptions/waivers can usually be obtained quickly.

Partner with a knowledgeable Medical Examiner for the best outcome:

For drivers taking medications that have serious side effects to safe driving, even medications where FMCSA guidance is that the driver be disqualified,  there is a process that medical examiners should take that greatly increases the chance the driver can be issued a medical examiner’s certificate.  We will discuss that in our next blog: CDL Medication Use: Don’t be Disqualified!

Continue reading part 2 [HERE].

Michael Megehee, DC  NRCME President

Avoid unnecessary disqualification by partnering with a TeamCME examiner to receive a Driver Helpful® CDL Physical Exam. They will guide you on the safest path to staying certified.