Unfortunately, this causes a major disruption in the driver’s ability of making a living. As President of the largest nationwide network of DOT Medical Examiners, I frequently get calls from drivers who have been disqualified and I am usually able to help them resolve these issues so they can keep truck’in.
Here is some of the information I often share:
There is only one medication that is always disqualifying: Marijuana
In 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated their medication use guidelines.
Prior to 2017, medications regarded as “absolute disqualifiers” included Chantix, Methadone, and Suboxone.
Since 2017, the only medication that is an “absolute disqualifier” is Marijuana (with or without a prescription). Of course, the use of a long list of Schedule I & II medications without a valid prescription is also disqualifying.
If a driver has a medical condition that is disqualifying, it will be the condition, not the medication taken to treat the condition which is disqualifying. For example, if a driver is taking Methadone or Suboxone for a current diagnosis of opioid addiction, they would be disqualified due to the condition. However, if a driver is taking either medication for pain relief, or is in remission of the opioid addiction and taking the medication for maintenance therapy, the driver could be qualified to drive with a letter from their prescribing provider stating that the treatment is effective and the driver is safe to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
A medical examiner must obtain clearance from the prescribing provider for drivers taking amphetamines, narcotics, or other medications with a high risk of abuse.
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. For example, drivers taking an anti-convulsant medication to prevent seizures are only allowed to drive across state lines if they obtain a Federal Seizure Exemption.
If taking medications with serious side effects or that may be subject to disqualification, there are guidelines medical examiners should follow that greatly increase the driver’s chances of being issued a medical certificate.
It’s always good practice for a driver to call their medical examiner prior to their appointment to ask whether the examiner has concerns with providing medical clearance for the medication being taken.
Partner with a knowledgeable Medical Examiner for the best outcome.
Take the safest path to maintaining certification.
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