There are many things that can make a driver exempt from obtaining a CDL, but did you know that there are also many medications that can prevent one from getting a CDL?
Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses or chemical imbalances. The symptoms of these illnesses can range from minor to severe and most are easily controlled with medication. The medications given for mental illnesses can help suffers live a normal, happy life.
If you suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses but take medication to treat the symptoms, you may be ineligible for a CDL.
According to the FMCSA, “individuals who live under chronic emotional upsets may have deeply ingrained maladaptive or erratic behavior patterns. Excessively antagonistic, instinctive, impulsive, openly aggressive, paranoid or severely depressed behavior greatly interfere with the driver’s ability to drive safely. Those individuals who are highly susceptible to frequent states of emotional instability (schizophrenia, affective psychoses, paranoia, anxiety or depressive neurosis) may warrant disqualification.
“Careful consideration should be given to the side effects and interactions of medications in the overall qualification determination. See Psychiatric Conference Report for specific recommendations on the use of these medications and potential hazards for driving.”
A 2009 FMCSA Medical report states:
It is the opinion of the MEP that all individuals with a history of the following psychiatric disorders should undergo additional medical and psychiatric evaluation to further assess functional ability before being considered qualified to drive a CMV:
- Psychotic Disorders
- Bipolar Disorders
- Major Depressive Disorder with a history of psychosis, suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation or a suicide attempt
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
The MEP believes that all individuals currently taking benzodiazepines or similar drugs which act on benzodiazepine receptors should be immediately prohibited from driving a CMV.
Individuals who take benzodiazepines for any length of time should not be allowed to drive until the drug has been cleared from their system (i.e., within seven half-lives of the drug and any active metabolites). Chronic users of benzodiazepines (i.e., regular use for more than a month) should also wait an additional week after the drug has cleared from their system before resuming driving to ensure that the drug has been completely eliminated. It is also suggested that FMCSA provide information regarding the half-life and seven half-lives of benzodiazepines and active metabolites to medical examiners for use at the time of examination.
Given the functional impairments and increased crash risk associated with benzodiazepine use, the MEP believes that:
- individuals currently taking benzodiazepines not be allowed to drive a CMV
- individuals who are taking benzodiazepines should stop taking them long enough ahead of driving for them to be cleared from their systems before being allowed to drive a CMV (it takes seven half lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from the body)
- chronic users of benzodiazepines should wait an additional week after the drug has been cleared from the body (i.e., seven half lives plus one week) before driving a CMV to ensure that it has been completely eliminated.
The MEP is of the opinion that all individuals currently taking lithium be excluded from driving a CMV at night.