November 12, 2015


As a new trucking company, you definitely have your hands full and may have rules and regulations that you haven’t taken the time to understand yet. Although you don’t have time to spare, understanding the drug and alcohol regulations is vital and failing to follow these important regulations is one of the quickest ways to get into hot water with the DOT. Here are some of the most common questions you might wonder about regarding the 49 CFR Part 40.

Q: Who is required to be drug tested?

A: This is for safety-sensitive employees who operate commercial motor vehicles requiring a CDL, including mechanics who test-drive trucks that require a CDL to operate.

Q: When are tests required?

A: Tests are normally required under these four circumstances –

  • Pre-employment – When an employee is first hired and prior to operating a vehicle, you must have negative test results showing you tested the individual and that the results were negative.
  • Reasonable suspicion – Every company must have at least one supervisor who has been through a DOT approved training program that helps them recognize when someone may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When a person with the required training observes behavior or appearance that is characteristic of substance misuse, they can require that person to be tested prior to operating a vehicle.
  • Random – All safety-sensitive employees who are required to be drug tested must also be part of a random drug and alcohol testing pool. Personnel are randomly selected from that pool to be tested and must do so when selected.
  • Post accident – A driver is required to be tested for alcohol within 8 hours and for drugs within 32 hours after all accidents involving a fatality or any accident when the driver’s performance could have contributed to the accident.

Q: What drugs are tested for?

A: Urine samples are tested for the following drugs –

  • Marijuana (THC metabolite)
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates (including heroine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Monoacetyl (Morphine)
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)

Q: How will the FMCSA know if my company is following the rules?

A: Motor carriers are required to maintain records showing compliance with the drug and alcohol regulations. The FMCSA conducts audits of motor carriers on a regular basis. If your company is part of a safety audit or a focused or comprehensive compliance review you will most likely be required to provide the auditor with that documentation.

Q: What happens if a driver tests positive for drugs or alcohol?

A: The driver must immediately be removed from any responsibilities and can’t return to safety-sensitive duties until he or she has been evaluated by a substance abuse professional, as complied with recommended rehabilitation, and has a negative result on a return-to-duty drug test. The driver will also have to participate in the follow-up testing to ensure he or she continues to stay clean from drug or alcohol use.

Q: What if the driver tests positive because of a prescription drug use?

A: If the driver has a legitimate prescription for the drugs and the use is within the parameters of the prescription, the driver will be fine. The driver will just need to provide proof of the prescription to the medical review officer who reviewed the test results. The testing can tell if the driver is using the drug at the prescribed level or if the drug use is higher than what was prescribed.

Q: What documentation should I provide if I am audited by the FMCSA?

A: A DOT auditor will usually ask for some or all of the following –

  • A copy of the contract if you are a member of a consortium.
  • Documentation showing all safety-sensitive CDL drivers for the company are members of the random pool.
  • The company Drug and Alcohol policy booklet.
  • Driver information booklet.
  • All pre-employment, random, post-accident and reasonable suspicion test results.

They occasionally will ask for a report from your consortium showing the percentage of random tests that were conducted for the previous year.

Q: What else am I required to provide my drivers?

A: Each driver must receive a copy of your company’s drug and alcohol policy.

For more information about the drug and alcohol consortium and how we can help your company succeed, contact us today by calling us at 1-866-736-6507.

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