History of Commercial Drivers Licenses and Discrimination

For many years, federal law prohibited anyone with insulin-treated diabetes from operating a commercial motor vehicle in "interstate commerce" (this includes not only when the driver is crossing state lines but when the goods or people being carried are on their way to or from another state).

These rules were based on diabetes medicines of the 1970s, rather than current diabetes science and management. While some states permitted those who use insulin to drive within their state under a medical waiver, that only allowed a few qualified people to maintain jobs in commercial driving.

The American Diabetes Association worked hard for many years to eliminate this blanket ban and get the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to institute a system of individual assessment — where each potential driver would be assessed based on how diabetes affected him or her.

Diabetes Exemption Program

In 2003, the Diabetes Exemption Program was born, establishing a system of individual assessment.

Read the comments filed by the American Diabetes Association on the proposed exemption program and the inclusion of a "three year rule" in the program:

Read the American Diabetes Association's press release concerning the establishment of the Diabetes Exemption Program:

On May 4, 2015, FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to eliminate the diabetes exemption program and allow treating clinicians and medical examiners to evaluate a driver’s diabetes and issue medical certification.  

  • Last Reviewed: September 20, 2013
  • Last Edited: June 2, 2015

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast