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Drug Testing

FMCSA expands drug and alcohol testing flexibility

March 26, 2020
Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic national emergency are interfering with, and in some cases might be preventing, employer and driver compliance with current drug and alcohol testing requirements.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created flexibility for drug and alcohol testing disrupted by COVID-19. These flexibilities, announced March 25, will be in effect until at least May 30.

Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic national emergency are interfering with, and in some cases might be preventing, employer and driver compliance with current drug and alcohol testing requirements, according to both the FMCSA and Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC).

The FMCSA issued the following recommendations in response to possible disruptions:

Random testing

If you are unable to perform random selections of drug and alcohol tests sufficient to meet the random testing rate for a given testing period in order to achieve the required 50% rate for drug testing, and 10% for alcohol testing, those tests should be made up by the end of the year. Proper written documentation stating the specific reason why you were unable to conduct tests on the randomly selected drivers, as well as any actions taken to locate an alternative collection site, or other testing resources.

Pre-employment testing

If you are unable to conduct a pre-employment-controlled substances test, you cannot allow a prospective employee to perform DOT safety-sensitive functions until you receive a negative pre-employment test result, unless the exception in 49 CFR 382.301(b) applies.

Post-accident testing

You are required to test each driver for alcohol and controlled substances as soon as practicable following an accident. However, if you are unable to administer an alcohol test within 8 hours following an accident, or a controlled substance test within 32 hours following an accident, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency, you must document in writing the specific reasons why the test could not be conducted, as currently required by FMCSA.

Reasonable suspicion testing

If you suspect one of your employees of drug and/or alcohol use and are unable to perform that test due to COVID-19 disruptions, you should document in writing the specific reasons why the test could not be conducted as required, include any efforts you made to mitigate the effect of the disruption, such as trying to locate an alternative collection site, in addition to the documentation of the observations leading to a test.

Return-to-duty (RTD) testing

You must not allow the driver to perform any safety-sensitive functions until the RTD test is conducted and there is a negative result.

Follow-up testing

If testing cannot be completed, you should document in writing the specific reasons why the testing could not be conducted as in accordance with the follow-up testing plan; you should include any efforts you made to mitigate the effect of the disruption, such as trying to locate an alternative collection site. You should conduct the test as soon as practicable.

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Fleet Owner Staff

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