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  • Natalie Byers

CDL Drivers and Prescription Medications

Updated: Oct 11

CDL Driver and Prescription Drugs don't mix well. Are you or your company handling this correctly within your DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Program?


We always get a lot of questions regarding the Drug and Alcohol (D&A) Testing Program, especially from our clients in our program. But recently, we’ve been handling a lot of questions from people all over the United States regarding CDL drivers and prescription medication.


Yes, a driver can have a negative drug test if they are using prescription opioids or amphetamines, but there’s a catch.


If a CDL driver has been prescribed prescription drugs, your DOT D&A Testing Policy (update 2019) is required to include that information in their Medical Examination form. That said, the driver must also disclose the information to the Designated Employer Representative (DER) for the company to maintain compliance.


When a driver has been prescribed a prescription medication which falls into one of the following classes, they must alert their DER. These banned substances are any of the following drug categories and/or any derivative of these substances:

· Amphetamine

· Opioid

· Cocaine

· Marijuana

· PCP


Obviously, the most common prescriptions given that drivers are most concerned about are the Amphetamines and Opioids categories. When these drugs are prescribed for short term purposes the DER can make the decision to temporarily remove the driver to other non-safety sensitive duties or remove the driver from service until the individual is no longer using the substance.


In certain events, the substance is prescribed for longer periods at a time. This is usually when our clients call us asking, "What are we supposed to do now?"


Luckily for you the answer is actually very simple. The driver must have a new medical certification completed by an FMCSA qualified Medical Examiner, and the driver must disclose the prescription on the medical evaluation long form. Completing the new medical certification will allow the qualified medical examiner to review the medication the driver is using and determine if the driver is able to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.


Under 49 CFR 391.41 Physical Qualification of Drivers, it is the medical examiners responsibility to make this decision. This is great news for the employer because this decision is ultimately up to the Medical Examiner and does not concern the employer at all.


In the world today, medical personnel do everything they can to prevent long term opioid use. When a driver is prescribed and opioid, the goal is to get them off this substance as quickly as possible in to prevent addiction.


In certain cases, amphetamines are prescribed long term to help or correct a behavioral issue. However, because the substance is amphetamine-based product (such as Adderall) it is still a banned substance and required the driver to declare the medication to the DER and the Medical Examiner for medial certification.


When a driver completes a DOT drug test and the substance is detected, this test will go into what is referred as "Further Testing." During this time the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will contact the driver and physician responsible for their care and confirm this substance is in fact physician prescribed. Once this has been confirmed, the result will show "Negative with the presence of ..."


This is a negative test, as long as the driver has been medically certified with this substance declared on the medical long form, he/she may remain in Safety Sensitive Duties.


I hope this is a helpful explanation of the specific requirements with prescription medication. Remember, at Front Range Compliance we are here for you to help you STAY OFF THE RADAR. Give us a call or send us an email if you have further questions that were not answered. If you want a great Drug and Alcohol Testing Program, we have you covered!!


Make sure to check out our online DOT Training, DOT University! We currently are offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement and Defensive Driving. In the coming months we plan on releasing Pre/Post Trip Inspection, Designated Employer Representative, and Appendix A.


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