FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Consortium

Jonathan Baktari, MD / CEO of US Drug Test Centers

The Department of Transportation has strict guidelines when it comes to maintaining a drug-free workplace. DOT FMCSA drug testing is vital. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry and motor coach bus industry in the U.S. CFR Part 382 of the FMCSA regulations deals with controlled substances and alcohol use and testing. The purpose of CFR Part 382 is to establish programs designed to help prevent accidents and injuries resulting from the misuse of alcohol or use of controlled substances by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

Employers and employees subject to the FMCSA CFR Part 382 regulations for drug and alcohol testing include those with a commercial driver’s license operating one or more of the following commercial motor vehicles (trucks or buses):

  • With a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds
  • With the capacity to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver)
  • Of any size that is used to transport hazardous materials which require the vehicle to be placarded

Employers including owner-operators who violate the FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program regulations may be subject to civil or criminal penalties. Fines of up to $10,000.00 per occurrence may be administered.

New operators are subject to a new entrant exam to verify compliance. The new entrant will be monitored during the initial 18-month period of operation. The FMCSA will:

  • Conduct a safety audit on the new entrant
  • Monitor safety performance through roadside inspections
  • Grant permanent authority, if safe

It’s critically important that the program for misuse of alcohol or use of controlled substances be in compliance. A new entrant will automatically fail the safety audit for violations related to:

  • No alcohol and/or drug testing program
  • No random alcohol and/or drug testing program
  • Using a driver who refused a required alcohol or drug test
  • Using a driver the company knows had a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or greater
  • Using a driver who failed to complete required follow-up procedures after testing positive for drugs

Drug and alcohol testing also includes random testing and reasonable suspicion testing

fmcsa dot regulated truck

The Types of FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing

Random Drug Testing for FMCSA (382.305)

Random drug testing is an important component of your program. It’s critical to have a knowledgeable provider to assist so that you are in compliance. Employers can be held responsible for service agent errors and resulting civil penalty actions for noncompliance even if the issues are caused by your drug testing provider.

DOT regulations mandate that the company establish a random drug and alcohol testing program. The FMCSA annual rate for FMCSA random drug testing must be 50% and the rate for alcohol testing must be 10%, based on the average number of driver positions.

Selection must be made by a scientifically valid method and testing must be spread reasonably throughout the calendar year. If the company conducts testing through a drug and alcohol consortium FMCSA, the number of drivers to be tested may be calculated based on the total number of drivers covered by the consortium.

Random alcohol testing shall only be conducted on a driver while on duty, just before driving, or just after driving.

Owner-operators must be enrolled in a random testing drug consortium FMCSA. An FMCSA random testing consortium will help you easily manage the random testing process for compliance with regulations with CFR Part 382.305. Learn more about US Drug Test Centers' owner-operator random testing consortium.

Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing (382.307 and 382.603)

Reasonable suspicion drug testing for FMCSA is another necessity. The company may require a driver to submit to a drug or alcohol test when reasonable suspicion exists that the driver has violated the drug use or alcohol misuse prohibitions contained in the regulations. The determination must be based on specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the driver.

The company official who makes the determination that reasonable suspicion exists must receive at least 60 minutes of training on drug use and at least an additional 60 minutes of training on alcohol misuse. The person who determines that reasonable suspicion exists must not conduct an alcohol test.

Alcohol testing for reasonable suspicion is authorized only if the observations are made and the test conducted while the driver is on duty, just before driving, or just after driving.

Our line supervisor training programs are critical to successful reasonable suspicion testing. Supervisor training is a requirement of an FMCSA DOT-compliant drug and alcohol program.

Other Testing Requirements

Other testing requirements for DOT FMCSA programs include:

  • FMCSA pre employment drug testing – An employer must receive a negative FMCSA pre employment drug test result before permitting a CDL driver to operate a CMV (§382.301)
  • Post-accident – Drug and alcohol tests may be required after crashes according to the FMCSA criteria (§382.303)
  • Return-to-duty – 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. This test is directly observed, and a negative result is required before resuming driving duties (§382.309 and §40.305)
  • Follow-up – 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. This testing is prescribed by the substance abuse professional for a minimum of six directly observed tests in 12 months but can be extended an additional four years (§382.311 and §40.307)

FMCSA DOT drug testing requires laboratory testing (49 CFR Part 40 Subpart F) for the following five classes of drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates – opium and codeine derivatives
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Phencyclidine – PCP

Failing a Drug or Alcohol Test

A driver fails an FMCSA drug test or alcohol test by refusing to test, testing positive to a drug test, or registering a 0.04 or greater alcohol content on FMCSA alcohol testing. All of these results require the driver to be immediately removed from performing safety-sensitive functions (i.e., driving CMVs) until successful completion of the return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional.

US Drug Test Centers serves all markets regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for drug and alcohol testing FMCSA programs. Our clients include owner-operators, private fleets, for-hire carriers, large trucking companies, small trucking companies, and bus companies both large and small. Get in touch with us to request immediate service to set up an account.

fmcsa regulated truck

FMCSA Compliance Requirements — Who is Covered?

We are often asked what employees must be included in the FMCSA DOT drug and alcohol testing program. FMCSA guidance states any person who operates a Commercial Motor Vehicle, as defined in §382.107, in intrastate or interstate commerce and is subject to the CDL requirement of 49 CFR part 383. The 382.107 definition is as follows:

Commercial motor vehicle means a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the vehicle

  1. Has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds), whichever is greater; or
  2. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 or more pounds), whichever is greater; or
  3. Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or
  4. Is of any size and is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous for the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. 5103(b)) and which require the motor vehicle to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR part 172, subpart F)

It's important to note that a person simply having a CDL license is not necessarily to be included in an FMCSA DOT drug and alcohol testing program; the individual must be operating a commercial motor vehicle as defined above.

FMCSA Required Training

49 CFR 382.603 is the applicable regulation requiring supervisors of commercial motor vehicle drivers who operate vehicles that require a commercial driver license to take 60 minutes of training on the symptoms of alcohol abuse and another 60 minutes of training on the symptoms of controlled substances use (120 minutes in total). The purpose of this training is to teach supervisors to identify circumstances and indicators that may create a reasonable suspicion that a driver is using or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, supporting the referral of an employee for testing.

If you operate vehicles that require a CDL on the public roads and you have more than one employee in the company, you are required to get DOT Supervisor Training. Owner-operators are not subject to DOT supervisor training. However, owner-operators are still required to register with a consortium for DOT drug and alcohol testing.

truck driving on the highway

FMCSA regulated employers must provide to their drivers educational materials and policies and procedures regarding the FMCSA DOT regulations on drug use and alcohol use. FMCSA 382.61 lists the required content to be made available to drivers.

US Drug Test Centers offers a comprehensive program for compliance with the DOT FMCSA regulations. Policies and procedures are available for our customers. Training and education are available with computer-based online training.

US Drug Test Centers Can Help

US Drug Test Centers can help with FMCSA compliance for drug and alcohol testing programs. Our comprehensive programs include:

  • A DOT-compliant written policy
  • Drug and alcohol testing with a Medical Review Officer (MRO)
  • Access to a nationwide network of 20,000+ collection sites
  • Pre-employment, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion drug testing
  • Random testing – consortium pool or stand-alone pool
  • Certificate of Enrollment
  • Federal Custody & Control Forms (CCF)
  • Employee education
  • Supervisor training
  • DER training
  • Post-accident support
  • Audit support
  • 24/7 emergency testing support
  • Assistance with record keeping
  • DOT required MIS reports
  • Online software platform with complete management of the testing program
  • All forms and paperwork needed for DOT compliance

When utilizing US Drug Test Centers for your drug and alcohol testing program, you can be confident that you are in compliance, and our team will assist you with your new entrant exam and any future audit of the drug and alcohol testing program.

FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Employers across the country are gearing up for some of the most significant changes in the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations recent in years. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse rule, also known as the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (“Clearinghouse”) - 49 CFR Part 382, subpart G, will go into effect on January 6, 2020.

Officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promote that the Clearinghouse will improve highway safety by helping employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement to quickly and efficiently identify drivers who are not legally permitted to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) due to drug and alcohol program violations. This new, secure online database will provide access to real-time information, ensuring that drivers committing these violations complete the necessary steps before getting back behind the wheel or performing any other safety-sensitive function.

The Role of the Clearinghouse

The primary role of the new Clearinghouse is increased safety. The implementation of the Clearinghouse database will, over time, close a dangerous loophole that has been exploited since the 1990s. In compliance with Part 382.413 of the current DOT regulations, employers are required to utilize a manual and mainly paper-driven process to inquire with a driver’s previous employer(s) over the last three years. Past employers would be contacted, commonly via fax, and would be required to provide any information regarding prior drug and alcohol testing violations. These employment verifications typically involved precious time, effort, record retention & retrieval for past employers, and good memory and unwavering honesty from the drivers, to function as an efficient safety check.

Previously, a driver could have a drug and alcohol testing violation with “trucking company A,” be terminated, and go apply at “trucking company B.” When “trucking company B” has the prospective driver provide their past employer information, the driver conveniently neglects to disclose that they ever worked for “trucking company A.” Since there is currently no central repository for this type of information, drivers could avoid the consequences of failing a drug or alcohol test by merely failing to disclose the information of their previous employer(s), leaving a prospective employer entirely in the dark on past violations.

The implementation of the Clearinghouse’s secure, online database will now provide employers and other authorized users real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learners’ permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violation, thus improving safety on our Nations roadways.

The Clearinghouse’s Impact

Referencing the FMCSA’s Clearinghouse FactSheet, these new regulations will affect “all CDL drivers who operate CMVs on public roads, and their employers and service agents.”

This includes, but not limited to:

  • Interstate and intrastate motor carriers, including passenger carriers
  • School bus drivers
  • Construction equipment operators
  • Limousine drivers
  • Municipal vehicle drivers (e.g., waste management vehicles)
  • Federal and state agencies that employ drivers subject to FMCSA drug and alcohol use testing regulations (e.g., Department of Defense, public transit)

Information that will be reported and stored in the FMCSA Clearinghouse includes:

  • Verified positive, adulterated, or substituted controlled substance test results
  • Reports of refusal to test (including no-shows)
  • Verified positive alcohol test results above .04
  • DUI citations while operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle
  • DUI conviction while operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle
  • Reports of actual knowledge of illicit alcohol or drug use
  • Negative return-to-duty test results
  • Records of compliance with follow-up testing requirements

For Employers

Employers of drivers operating CMVs that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial driver’s permit (CLP) are required to implement and conduct a drug and alcohol use testing program that complies with FMCSA and DOT requirements. Employers will be required to query the Clearinghouse and request drug and alcohol testing histories from previous employers (going back three years) until January 6, 2023.  The Clearinghouse query will then replace the need for an employer to request employment history, going forward.

The FMCSA Clearinghouse brings the following new requirements for employers:

Registration - FMCSA regulated employers must register their company with the Clearinghouse, starting right now. The database will pull your company information from other FMCSA systems using your USDOT Number. Registration is free.

Designate your C/TPA - Once registration is complete employers, that work with one or more consortia/third-party administrator(s) (C/TPAs), will be required to designate them in the Clearinghouse before they can access the Clearinghouse database on the employer's behalf. Employers will also be able to invite “assistants” or other employees who will access the Clearinghouse on the company’s behalf, inviting them to register as part of the company or organization.

Pre-Employment Screening - Employers will be required to run detailed database queries to make sure applicants they are planning to hire for regulated positions do not have outstanding positive test results.

Annual Screening - Employers will be required to run limited database queries for current drivers at least once a year to determine whether any information exists in the Clearinghouse about those employees. If the limited query returns any results, a detailed database query will then be required.

Employers must also:

  • Purchase a database Query Plan from the FMCSA that best fits your company’s needs.
  • Be sure CDL information (number & state of origin) is in a driver file and easily accessible.
  • Implement changes to your hiring process that includes consent from drivers to do an initial detailed query and include the details for which an employer will report results to the Clearinghouse.
  • Report drug and alcohol testing violations to the Clearinghouse, including alcohol test results with a concentration of .04 or greater, refusals to take a drug or alcohol test, and any actual knowledge of a violation. Employers will also report negative return-to-duty (RTD) test results and the successful completion of a driver’s follow-up testing plan. This information must be reported by the close of the third business day after the employer is informed.
  • Train your Designated Employer Representative (DER) and safety officers on the required documentation for reporting “actual knowledge” of drugs or alcohol use while operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)

An owner-operator or employer who employs themselves as a driver must comply with FMCSA drug and alcohol requirements that apply to both employers and drivers. Owner-operators are required to work with at least one consortia/third-party administrator (C/TPA). Owner-operators are required to designate their C/TPA(s) in the Clearinghouse before they can access the Clearinghouse database on their behalf. Owner-operators will also be able to invite “assistants” or other employees who will access the Clearinghouse on the company’s behalf, inviting them to register as part of the company.

Our Drug Testing Partners