Employers of commercial truck drivers must provide mandatory alcohol and drug testing as outlined in the Federal Code of Regulations Part 40 and Part 382, no matter the size of the business. A testing program that complies with these regulations has a written alcohol and drug policy, conducts six types of testing and meets confidentiality and reporting requirements. Drivers cannot refuse to submit to an alcohol or drug test. If you do, your employer must consider you as no different from a driver who takes a test and fails.
Inclusions and Cutoff Concentrations
Drug screens check for an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood or greater and varying nanograms per milliliter of blood in five classes of drugs. These include:
- Marijuana - 15 ng/mL or greater
- Cocaine - 2000 ng/mL
- Opiates (opium and codeine derivatives) - 2000 ng/mL
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines - 250 ng/mL
- Phencyclidine (PCP) - 25 ng/mL
Frequency and Types of Testing
Expect alcohol and drug testing to take place during the hiring process, if you cause or are involved in an accident that results in a fatality regardless of fault or if you cause an accident for which you receive a citation. Your employer also is required to conduct random testing, as well as on-the-spot testing if you appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse a test or test positive, expect a direct observation return-to-duty test and at least one follow-up test after you successfully complete counseling or treatment with a qualified substance abuse professional, as required by the Department of Transportation's return-to-duty process.
About Random Testing
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations have minimum required testing rates for alcohol and drugs, which for 2015 are 10 percent and 50 percent of all covered employees during the calendar year. Best practice recommendations encourage employers to test at least quarterly, and preferably more often. The selection process uses scientifically valid methods such as a computer-based random number generator, not procedures such as picking names from a hat or rolling dice. Because selection is completely random, it is quite likely that some drivers will be selected more than once and some not at all.
Under normal circumstances, drug and alcohol testing starts with a urine sample. The only common exceptions are for post-accident and on-the-spot testing. In these situations, your employer can rely on a police-administered test or use a DOT-approved breathalyzer to test for alcohol. There are strict chain-of command, confidentiality and reporting procedures for every alcohol and drug test. Each sample undergoes at least one test, and those that exceed the minimum cutoff levels undergo an additional confirmation test.
- American Bar Association: Drug Testing for Professional Drivers
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Drug and Alcohol Testing
- U.S. Department of Transportation: What are the Cutoff Concentrations for Drug Tests?
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Best Practices for DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Testing
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Current Random Testing Rates
- Photo Credit STEFANOLUNARDI/iStock/Getty Images
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