Welcome to Part II of our series! In Part I, we gave you an introduction into the what and the why of drug and alcohol testing for truck drivers. Today we will give you the how.
There are a number of different types of drug and alcohol tests you may need to take, so it’s time to cover those details. For details on specific regulations, see section 382.107 of the FMCSRs.
Today we will discuss the following test types:
- Pre-employment testing;
- Post-accident testing;
- Random testing.
The first step in getting your trucking job is passing your pre-employment test, so let’s start there.
Pre-Employment Drug Testing
Before you can report for duty and get behind the wheel of a big rig, you’ve got to take a pre-employment drug screening. Your employer must be able to report a negative result before you can be allowed to begin driving. A pre-employment alcohol test is not required, but an employer could choose to give this test at their discretion.
Post-Accident Drug and Alcohol Testing
There are two types of post-accident testing: Drug and alcohol. The criteria by which you must submit to either test differs.
You will need to submit to a post-accident alcohol test if:
- There were any fatalities involved;
- Anyone who is injured is immediately taken away from the scene of an accident and you are cited for a moving traffic violation within 8 hours;
- A vehicle had to be towed from the scene of an accident and you are cited for a moving violation within 8 hours.
Post-accident alcohol testing will usually be done within 2 hours of the accident. If the test cannot be performed within that time frame, the motor carrier must provide a written record as to why the test could not be performed. If the test hasn’t been performed within 8 hours, it is then invalidated and will not be performed. In this case, the motor carrier must again explain why it did not happen.
A post-accident drug test will be required if:
- There were any fatalities involved;
- Anyone who is injured is immediately taken away from the scene of an accident and you are cited for a moving violation within 32 hours;
- A vehicle had to be towed from the scene and you are cited for a moving violation within 32 hours.
Unlike post-accident alcohol testing, post-accident drug testing must be performed within 32 hours of the accident. If it cannot be performed within that time frame, it will not need to be, and the motor carrier must be able to provide a written record explaining why.
Bear in mind that if you are subject to a post-accident test, you must remain available for it. Not remaining available to take the test is considered a refusal. Refusals are generally given the same weight as failures, so you may as well take the test.
A certain percentage of truck drivers are required to undergo unannounced random testing throughout the year. When you are informed of a random test, you must immediately go to the testing site and take the test.
Random drug testing can happen at any point during your normal workday with a motor carrier. Random alcohol testing must be conducted before, during and after you have operated a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
You may be wondering how certain truck drivers are selected. The Department of Transportation (DOT) will only accept a random number table or computer-based random number generator attached to a piece of identifying information relating to a particular employee. Pulling out of a hat is not acceptable.
Once you have been tested during the calendar year, your name will be returned to the pool. The DOT requires that each truck driver be subject to an equal chance of getting pulled for testing each time someone is selected.
Join us next time when we take a look at the final two tests: Reasonable suspicion and return-to-duty or follow-up testing.