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  • Natalie Byers

Drug & Alcohol Testing for Truck Drivers

Updated: 5 days ago

As a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) holder, you are subject to drug and alcohol testing. Testing is required once you are operating in a safety sensitive function, for example operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Throughout your career with your CDL, you will be required to be tested regularly by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Times Drivers Will be Subject to Drug and Alcohol Testing

There are different times when drivers can expect to drug and alcohol testing to take place. Throughout your career you may not experience all of these but you will be subject to many of them. The various situations are pre-employment, post accident, reasonable suspicion, random, and returning to duty testing.


Pre-Employment Testing

All CDL drivers will be tested prior to being accepted for a job with any company where you will be operative CMVs. This type of testing is primarily done to protect the company from employing anyone who may rely on drugs throughout their employment. If your pre-employment test come back positive, you won’t be offered a role that involves driving a commercial vehicle. You will have the option to complete a return-to-duty (RTD) process with a substance abuse professional (SAP) and then be able to reapply.


Post Accident

In the event of an accident, you will be tested if there was damage to your truck, an injury, or a fatality, drug tests are required post-accident regardless of fault. Testing needs to be done as soon as possible following an accident. An alcohol test is required within eight hours of the incident, and the controlled substances test must be completed within 32 hours. Attempts to test should cease if unable to complete within the time frame above. If testing isn't done within the laid out time frames, official written explanation of why needs to be filed.


Reasonable Suspicion Testing

If your employer or supervisor suspects you are working under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s likely they will call you in for a reasonable suspicion drug test. Training is required by the FMCSA for managers and supervisors to know the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use/misuse. This training will also teach the proper course of action in the event a supervisor is suspecting a driver of drug or alcohol use/misuse. If you are in need of this training, DOT University offers a great option online. Use code FRCS25 for $25 off your purchase.


Random Drug Testing

As a CDL driver, you will be enrolled into a randomized testing pool as part of your company's Drug and Alcohol policy. These tests are never scheduled and could take place before, during, or after a shift. When you are asked to complete a random drug test, you’ll need to head to the location where the drug and alcohol testing is taking place immediately.


Returning to Duty Following a Positive Drug Test

If you’ve previously failed a drug test and are now trying to return to employment, you’ll also be required to complete a test or a series of tests. Your return to duty process will be put into place by the substance abuse professional (SAP) you work with for your RTD process. You'll be expected to complete the treatment and return to duty process laid out by the SAP, and a negative test result is required to reinstate your employment, or make you eligible for employment.


Follow-Up Testing Upon Return to Duty

As well as being tested to allow you to return to work, you’ll also need to complete regular follow-up tests once returning to work. These tests will be random and the amount of time you will be subject to follow-up testing will also be put in place by your SAP. Those who have previously tested positive or refused a test, will be subject to randomized testing for up to five years.


Type of Tests Administered for Drug and Alcohol

The majority of testing companies use the standard 5-panel drug testing procedure, which looks for marijuana, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines, and phencyclidine. This is the minimum testing required to stay in compliance with FMCSA and DOT standards. Some companies choose to do more comprehensive testing as laid out in their company drug and alcohol policy.


The most common method of testing for controlled substances through is urine testing, which is often used for pre-employment tests. While there are other ways to test for controlled substances, this is the only option to comply with FMCSA and DOT rules and regulations. As for alcohol tests, breathalyzers are used, where you’ll blow into a device to check your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

The DOT Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

All CDL drivers are required to register for an account in the FMCSA Clearinghouse, an online database which employers use to check potential employees’ current records. Each person's Clearinghouse report will have a record of all positive tests and refusal of tests for up to five years. You are able to review your account to ensure all information is up-to-date and correct. It’s your responsibility to ensure the information is accurate.


What to do After A Drug Test Failure?

In the event of a failed drug or alcohol test, you will have to go through a return-to-duty process with a SAP. For more information on what that looks like, click the link below!

Drug and Alcohol Policies

At Front Range Compliance Services, one of our specialities is building and managing drug and alcohol programs for our clients. We will build a policy for your company, set up a randomized testing program for your drivers and much more. For more information about what that includes, click here! For any specific questions, please reach out to Nicole at (970) 646-1050 or email her at nicole@frontrangecompliance.com or click the link below!


Make sure to check out our online DOT Training platform, DOT University! We currently are offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement, Defensive Driving, and Pre/Post Trip Inspection. In the coming months, we plan on releasing Designated Employer Representative and Appendix A.


Until then, check out our other blogs or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be the first to know when new classes are made available or for other updates like this! You can also opt-in to our newsletter for exclusive offers, regulation changes, and industry news!


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