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Owner Operator DOT Consortium Random Drug & Alcohol Program

Owner-Operators DOT Required Random Testing – Are You in Compliance?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require trucking companies to participate in a DOT drug and alcohol testing program. As an owner-operator, this is often complex and challenging, as you have an additional requirement to register with a consortium and participate in the consortium’s random testing pool.

The consortium is often referred to as a Consortium/Third-Party Administrator (C/TPA).

Who is Covered for DOT FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing?

If you drive a truck and you are self-employed or an owner-operator, you may be regulated by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for drug and alcohol testing. If you have a CDL and answer YES to any of the following questions, then YES, you need to be in compliance with DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations.

  1. Do you drive a vehicle that has a gross combination weight of 26,001 pounds (11,794 kilograms) or more? or
  2. Do you drive a vehicle that is capable of transporting 16 or more passengers including the driver? or
  3. Do you drive a vehicle of any size that is required to be placarded when being used to transport hazardous materials in accordance with 49 CFR part 172, subpart f?

Why is Consortium Enrollment Important?

Save money and time, and avoid fines and out-of-service violations. Fines can be up to $10,000 per occurrence. An out-of-service notice will put you out of business.

For new owner-operators, within 12 months after beginning operations, you will have a DOT FMCSA safety audit, often called a new entrant examination. Audits and compliance reviews include verification of your DOT FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program. A new entrant (new owner-operator) will automatically fail the safety audit for violations related to:

  • Owner-operator not enrolled in a consortium program for random drug and alcohol testing
  • 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

Required Drug Testing

DOT and FMCSA require alcohol testing and drug testing with the 5 panel drug test. This panel tests for:

  • Marijuana metabolites
  • Cocaine metabolites
  • Phencyclidine
  • Opioids — codeine, heroin, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone
  • Amphetamines — amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, and MDA

test tubes for drug testing

When is Drug Testing Required under DOT and FMCSA Rules (Part 382, Subpart C)?

These testing requirements apply to the owner-operator.

Pre-Employment (382.301) — The company must require a driver applicant the company intends to hire or use to be tested for drug use as a pre-qualification condition. The company may not first use the driver until a verified negative drug test result is obtained.

Alcohol is typically not utilized for pre-employment testing but is utilized in all the other testing types below.

Post-Accident (382.303)  DOT rules require that any driver involved in an accident that results in a death or citation for a moving violation must submit to a test for the presence of drugs and alcohol.

What is an accident? An accident is any occurrence involving a commercial vehicle operating on a public road which results in a fatality, an injury requiring immediate treatment away from the scene, or disabling damage requiring one or more vehicles to be towed.

Random Testing (382.305)  DOT regulations mandate that the company establish a random drug and alcohol testing program. The rate for drug testing must be at least 25% and the rate for alcohol testing must be at least 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 consortium, 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.

Reasonable Suspicion (382.307 and 382.603) — 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.

Return-to-Duty (382.309) — Each employer shall ensure that before a driver returns to duty requiring the performance of a safety-sensitive function after engaging in conduct prohibited by subpart B of this part concerning alcohol, the driver shall undergo a return-to-duty alcohol test with a result indicating an absence of alcohol.

Each employer shall ensure that before a driver returns to duty requiring the performance of a safety-sensitive function after engaging in conduct prohibited by subpart B of this part concerning controlled substances, the driver shall undergo a return-to-duty controlled substance test with a result indicating a verified negative result for controlled substance use.

Follow-up (382.311 and 382.605) — The company must advise any driver who has violated the drug use or alcohol misuse regulations of the resources available in evaluating and resolving problems associated with the conduct. Each driver who has engaged in prohibited conduct must be evaluated by a substance abuse professional. If it is determined that assistance is needed, follow-up testing may be required.

Testing must be unannounced and consist of at least six tests in the first 12 months following the driver’s return to duty. In no case shall the testing exceed 60 months.

Follow-up alcohol testing shall only be conducted on a driver while on duty, just before a safety-sensitive function, or just after a safety-sensitive function.

DOT Random Testing Required Rates

DOT Agency

Annual Rate Drugs

Annual Rate Alcohol

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

25%

10%

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

25%

10%

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

25% - Covered Service

50% Maintenance of Way

10%- Covered Service

25% - Maintenance of way

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

25%

10%

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

50%

None

United States Coast Guard (USCG)

25%

None

Each DOT agency and the USCG has regulations that require certain employers to implement a random testing program. Compliance experts at US Drug Test Centers can help you navigate through the requirements for your DOT required random drug testing program.

Working With US Drug Test Centers to Stay Compliant

US Drug Test Centers is a leader in the nation, providing C/TPA services. Our experienced team can help you with compliance with three easy steps, taking out all the complexity and making it simple for you to get compliant today.

All you have to do is: 

  1. Call 866-566-0261 or read more about our program information and registration
  2. Complete a pre-employment drug test
  3. Follow our instructions for compliance with our FMCSA random testing consortium

We work every day with owner-operators and make the required participation in the random consortium quick and easy. Upon completion of your registration, you will receive your drug testing custody and control form (CCF) to take your pre-employment DOT drug test, a certificate of compliance, employee education guide, access to over 20,000 collection sites, and medical review.

We can also schedule your pre-employment test electronically so you can get that completed with same-day service in all areas of the United States.  DOT random consortium compliance is simple, fast, and affordable and can be accomplished in one day — no long applications, credit checks, or other paperwork hassles. Our owner-operator experts are standing by to help you comply with the DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations.

US Drug Test Centers provides a complete turnkey service. This includes the specimen collection facility, a SAMHSA certified laboratory, medical review officer (MRO), and when needed, a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). Drug test results are reported with a quick turnaround time electronically with our web-based portal and electronic communications.

Remember, as an owner-operator in the motor carrier industry, FMCSA regulations require you to belong to a C/TPA to ensure your compliance with random testing.