FMCSA Drug Testing
The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 set the groundwork for the creation of the FMCSA, which was created on January 1, 2000. This established the FMCSA as a seperate operating division within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).
The FMCSA is headquartered in Washington, DC and with a staff of more than 1,000 people in all 50 States and the District of Columbia and is the Federal Agency taking the initiative for regulating, providing safety and oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), improving the safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and saving lives.
- reduce crashes,
- reduce injuries, and
- reduce fatalities involving large trucks and buses.
Affiliating with transportation industry partners, safety advocates, along with state and local governments, the FMCSA maintains our nation’s roadways for safety and strive to improve commercial motor vehicle safety through regulation, education, enforcement, research, and technology.
What CDL Drivers Need to Know
In 1991, the United States Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, which required DOT agencies to implement drug and alcohol testing for all safety sensitive transportation employees. Congress recognized the need for a drug and alcohol free transportation industry, and thus 49 CFR Part 40, commonly referred to as Part 40 was established as a DOT-wide regulation that provides guidance on:
- Who is subject to testing
- How to conduct testing and
- How to return employees to safety-sensitive duties after they violate a DOT drug and alcohol regulation.
49 CFR Part 40 provides guidance on all DOT-required drug and alcohol testing, regardless of mode of transportation. For example, whether you are an airline pilot covered by FAA rules or a driver for a trucking company covered by FMCSA rules, Part 40 outlines the specific procedures for collection, testing of specimens and reporting of test results. Each DOT Agency-specific regulation defines who is subject to testing, when and in what situations for that specific transportation industry.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and 49 CFR Part 40 has defined drug and alcohol testing rules and regulations for employees who drive commercial trucks and buses that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL). These regulations identify who is subject to testing, when they are tested and in what situations. The regulations also require privacy protections and restrictions on employers and service agents against the use and release of sensitive drug and alcohol testing information. The FMCSA controlled substances and alcohol use and testing regulations can be found at 49 CFR Part 382.
Who is Tested?
Typically, all CDL drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles are subject to the CDL requirements on the public roadways in the United States and who are also performing safety-sensitive functions are subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing under section (§382.103). This would also include all full-time, part-time, intermittent, backup and international drivers.
When is an FMCSA Drug Test Performed?
- Pre-employment drug screenings
- Reasonable suspicion drug testing
- Random drug testing
- Post-accident drug testing
- Return-to-duty drug screens
- Follow-up drug screening
What Substances are Tested?
Alcohol – DOT alcohol tests can use either saliva or breath (with PAS devices) but confirmation tests must use EBT devices.
Drugs – As specified in DOT regulations 49 CFR part 40 with the Cut Off levels listed in DOT regulations 49 CFR part 40; the following substances will be tested for:
- Marijuana metabolites
- Cocaine metabolites
- Opioids** – codeine, heroin, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone & hydromorphone
- Amphetamines -amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA & MDA
**Some common names for the new semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.
What is Pre-Employment Testing?
The DOT defines Pre-employment testing as prior to the first time any employee performs safety-sensitive functions for any employer (including a single owner operator). Part 40 states that the driver/safety-sensitive employee shall undergo testing for controlled substances as a condition of employment.
Furthermore, no employer shall allow a driver, who the employer intends to hire or use, to perform safety-sensitive functions unless the employer has received a controlled substances test result from the MRO or C/TPA indicating a verified negative test result for that driver/employee.
What is a violation of DOT Drug and Alcohol Regulations?
- A verified positive DOT drug test result,
- a DOT alcohol test with a result indicating an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater,
- a refusal to test (including by adulterating or substituting a urine specimen) or
- any other violation of the prohibition on the use of alcohol or drugs under a DOT agency regulation constitutes a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation.
When is a SAP evaluation required?
A SAP (Substance Abuse Professional) is required when any safety sensitive employee violates any DOT drug and alcohol regulations. Once the violation has occurred, the employee must not perform any DOT safety-sensitive duties for any employer until and unless he/she completes the SAP evaluation, referral, and education/treatment process set forth in this subpart and in applicable DOT agency regulations.
How does the return-to-duty process conclude?
Employers wishing to permit the employee to return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions, you must ensure that the employee takes a return-to-duty test. This test cannot occur until after the SAP has determined that the employee has successfully complied with prescribed education and/or treatment. The employee must have a negative drug test result and/or an alcohol test with an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02 before resuming performance of safety-sensitive duties.
A SAP or MRO must not make a “fitness for duty” determination as part of this re-evaluation unless required to do so under an applicable DOT agency regulation. It is the employer’s responsibility to decide whether to put the employee back to work in a safety-sensitive position.
What is Follow up Testing?
Follow-up testing is required for drivers who:
- tested positive,
- refused, or
- otherwise violated the prohibitions of 49 CFR Part 382 Subpart B; and
- who have completed the return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional, and
- have tested negative for a return-to-duty test.
Follow up testing is prescribed by the substance abuse professional (SAP) for a minimum of 6 directly observed tests in 12 months, but can be extended an additional four years.
Are there any exceptions to pre-employment drug testing?
Yes, the following examples are allowed by the DOT as exceptions to the pre-employment drug testing requirement:
An employer is not required to administer a controlled substances pre-employment test required by this section if:
- The driver has participated in a controlled substance testing program that meets the requirements of this part within the previous 30 days; and
- While participating in that program, either:
- Was tested for controlled substances within the past 6 months (from the date of application with the employer), or
- Participated in the random controlled substances testing program for the previous 12 months (from the date of application with the employer); and
- The employer ensures that no prior employer of the driver of whom the employer has knowledge has records of a violation of this part or the controlled substances use rule of another DOT agency within the previous six months.
If an employer chooses to exercise the above referenced exception must contact the controlled substances testing program(s) in which the driver participates or participated and shall obtain and retain from the testing program(s) the following information:
- Name(s) and address(es) of the program(s).
- Verification that the driver participates or participated in the program(s).
- Verification that the program(s) conforms to part 40 of this title.
- Verification that the driver is qualified under the rules of this part, including that the driver has not refused to be tested for controlled substances.
- The date the driver was last tested for controlled substances.
- The results of any tests taken within the previous six months and any other violations of subpart B of this part.
Is pre-employment alcohol testing allowed?
Employers may choose but are not required to, conduct pre-employment alcohol testing under this part. However, if an employer chooses to conduct pre-employment alcohol testing, it must comply with the following requirements:
- It must conduct a pre-employment alcohol test before the first performance of safety-sensitive functions by every covered employee (whether a new employee or someone who has transferred to a position involving the performance of safety-sensitive functions).
- It must treat all safety-sensitive employees performing safety-sensitive functions the same for the purpose of pre-employment alcohol testing (i.e., it must not test some covered employees and not others).
- It must conduct the pre-employment tests after making a contingent offer of employment or transfer, subject to the employee passing the pre-employment alcohol test.
- It must conduct all pre-employment alcohol tests using the alcohol testing procedures of 49 CFR part 40 of this title.
- It must not allow a covered employee to begin performing safety-sensitive functions unless the result of the employee’s test indicates an alcohol concentration of less than 0.04.
For information regarding the effects of drug abuse – Click Here
For information on a drug free work place – Click Here
For information on substance abuse programs – Click Here
For information on DOT Drug / Alcohol Testing requirements – Click Here