New FMCSA Rule: Bus and Truck Drivers and Heroin, LSD and Other Drugs

Thankfully, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently finalized a rule that clears up an ambiguity that appeared to allow semi truck, bus and other commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to use Schedule I drugs (heroin, LSD, etc.) when prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner who had advised the driver that the prescribed drug would not adversely affect the driver’s ability to operate a CMV.  According to FMCSA, the agency had never considered the prescription exception to permit use of Schedule I drugs by CMV drivers under any circumstance because Federal law prohibits Schedule I drugs from being prescribed in the United States.

Below are the sections of the federal regulations amended by the new rule.

49 CFR 382.213

This section was changed to make it clear that Schedule I drugs may not be used by semi truck, bus or other CMV drivers under any circumstances, not even when prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner who has advised the driver that the prescribed substance will not adversely affect the driver’s ability to operate a CMV.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration:

Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Some examples of substances listed in schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“ecstasy”).

49 CFR 391.41 and 391.43

Section 391.41 was modified by this rule to make it clear that the prescription exception to drug use by a CMV driver is only available for non-Schedule I drugs.  Prior to this final rule, § 391.41(b)(12) did not differentiate between Schedule I and non- Schedule I drugs for the purpose of the prescription exception. Section 391.43(f) incorporates the substance of § 391.41(b)(12) into pages 4 and 8 of the Instructions to the Medical Examiner.

Because Schedule I drugs can’t be prescribed in the United States, these changes are simply a clarification of the law.  However, we should also take a closer look at non-Schedule I drugs to determine if any of those should also be excluded from the prescription exception. The top priority should be to keep roads safe.

Semi Truck Accident Attorney Eric Hageman represents clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout the United States. To contact Eric or another attorney at the firm for a free consultation, call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or submit our free consultation form

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