September 13, 2013
DOT Drug and Alcohol Regulations FAQ
Last Updated: January 15, 2020
When running your own trucking company, you need to make sure you’re compliant with DOT. Here are some of the most common questions we get regarding
49 CFR Part 40, the DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Regulations section.
Want to learn more that you don’t see covered here? Check out
episode 15 of our podcast Haulin Assets for an easy-to-follow overview of drug and alcohol regulations.
If you want to learn more about FMCSA’s new Clearinghouse, you can learn all about the
Clearinghouse changes and how it affects your trucking company.
Who is required to be drug tested?
Drivers only need to be drug tested and enrolled in a consortium if they are driving a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more.
What drugs does the DOT test for?
Urine specimens are tested for the following drugs:
Marijuana (THC metabolite)
Opiates (including heroin)
When do safety-sensitive employees need to be tested?
Tests are normally required under these four circumstances:
When an employee is first hired and prior to operating a vehicle, you must have test results showing you tested the individual and the results were negative.
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 Tests
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 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 (such as driving a truck) 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.
If your trucking company is new, you can expect to be audited within the first 12 months of operation. Learn more about
what a new entrant safety audit is and what to expect during your audit.
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 those duties until he or she has:
Been evaluated by a substance abuse professional
Complied with recommended rehabilitation
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 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 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 else am I required to provide my drivers?
Each driver must receive a copy of your company’s drug and alcohol policy, as well.
If you want to make sure you have all the necessary paperwork to stay compliant, we’ve made it easy by putting it all in one place. Download our compliance checklist for free!
Download Our Compliance Checklist
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. Have more questions about drug and alcohol regulations?
If you want to learn more about what you can do to be compliant with DOT’s drug and alcohol regulations, you can always
ask the coaches at Motor Carrier HQ.
We also can help you stay compliant with our
random drug and alcohol testing consortium and supervisor training that meet DOT’s requirements.