September 13, 2013


Here are some of the most common questions we get regarding 49 CFR Part 40, the DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Regulations section.

Who is required to be drug tested?

Safety-sensitive employees who operate commercial motor vehicles requiring a CDL, this would include mechanics who test-drive trucks that require a CDL to operate.

What drugs are tested for?

Urine specimens are tested for the following drugs:

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

When do safety-sensitive employees need to be tested?

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 the results were negative.
  • Reasonable suspicion-Each 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 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 (as determined by a citation for a moving traffic violation).

How does the random drug and alcohol testing pool work?

All personnel required by DOT regulation to be drug tested, must also be part of a random pool.  Single owner operators or companies with only one driver are required to be part of a consortium, a random pool administered by a third party.  Everyone else may administer their own pool, but they must be able to show they are operating their own pool according to DOT regulations.

Each year, at least 50% of the safety-sensitive drivers must be randomly selected and take a DOT drug test and at least 10% must be tested for alcohol.  Because the selections must be completely random, some drivers may be tested more than once a year while others may go years without being tested at all.  Once a driver has been notified they have been selected for testing, the driver must immediately cease all safety sensitive operations and go to a collection site and provide a urine specimen.

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

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.

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

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

What documentation am I required to provide if I am audited by the FMCSA?

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

  • 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
  • Occasionally, they will ask for a report from your consortium showing the percentage of random tests that were conducted for the previous year

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

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.

What else am I required to provide my drivers?

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

What is drug and alcohol supervisor training?

Supervisors of safety-sensitive drivers must participate in two hours of training that helps them identify the symptoms and indicators of drug and alcohol misuse used in making determinations for reasonable suspicion testing.  The training also teaches the supervisor what steps should be taken when they suspect a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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