Reducing Losses Through Alcohol and Drug Testing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires alcohol and drug testing of drivers who are licensed commercially (FMCSR Part 40 and Part 382). Drivers and employers subject to these rules include:

• Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) owners, lessees and independent drivers

• Those who assign drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles

• Federal, state and local governments

• For-hire motor carriers

• Private motor carriers

• Civic Organizations (Disabled Veteran Transport, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.)

• Churches

Prohibited Alcohol Use

Alcohol is a legal substance. Therefore, the rules define prohibited alcohol-related conduct. Performance of safety-sensitive functions is prohibited:

• While consuming alcohol

• While having a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater

• Within four hours after consuming alcohol

Additionally, refusing to submit to an alcohol test, or consuming alcohol within eight hours after an accident or until

tested (for drivers required to be tested), are prohibited.

Required Alcohol Testing

• Post-accident – Whenever a CMV driver is involved in an accident involving one or

more fatalities, regardless of fault. Also, whenever the CMV driver is cited for a

moving violation and the accident results in anyone requiring immediate medical

treatment for their injuries and/or any vehicle is damaged to the point

requiring towing.

• Reasonable suspicion – When driver exhibits alcohol misuse-type behavior

or appearance

• Random unannounced – At least 50 percent of all CMV drivers in your driver

pool must be randomly tested for controlled substances each year. At least

10 percent of all CMV drivers in your driver pool must be randomly tested for

alcohol use each year. Most companies choose to join a testing consortium to

handle the administration of the program.

• Return-to-duty and follow-up – At least six unannounced tests in 12 months are conducted

The Consequences of Alcohol Use Rule Violations

Drivers who violate alcohol use rules must be removed from duty. They cannot return until they have been evaluated by a substance abuse professional and have complied with treatment recommendations. Drivers who have an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater when tested just before, during or after performing safety-sensitive functions must also be removed from duty for 24 hours. (FMCSA 382.121(a)(4)(i))

Employee Communication and Supervisor Training

Employers must provide detailed information about alcohol misuse, company policies, testing requirements and alcohol abuse treatment. Supervisors must attend at least one hour of training on alcohol misuse symptoms and indicators used in making determinations for reasonable suspicion testing.

Rehabilitating Employees

Refer drivers who violate the alcohol use rules to a substance abuse professional for evaluation. Provide treatment or rehabilitation in accordance with company policy or labor/management agreements. An employer is not required under the FMCSA rules to provide rehabilitation, pay for treatment or reinstate the drivers in safety-sensitive positions. Any employer who does decide to return a driver to safety-sensitive duties must ensure that the driver:

• Has been evaluated by a substance abuse professional

• Has complied with recommended treatment

• Has taken a return-to-duty alcohol test with a result less than 0.02 alcohol concentration

• Is subject to unannounced follow-up alcohol tests

Drug Testing Rules

Drug testing rules cover the same drivers as the alcohol testing rules. Required tests include:

• Pre-employment

• Random

• Reasonable suspicion

• Return-to-duty

• Post-accident

• Follow-up

The drug rules prohibit any unauthorized use of controlled substances by safety-sensitive drivers on- or off-duty. The FMCSA prohibits the use of legally prescribed controlled substances (such as barbiturates, amphetamines, morphine, etc.) by safety-sensitive drivers involved in interstate commerce.

Drug Testing Procedures

Drug testing is conducted by analyzing a driver’s urine specimen. The analysis is performed at laboratories certified and monitored by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Urine specimens are analyzed for:

• Marijuana (THC metabolite)

• Cocaine

• Amphetamines

• Opiates (including heroin)

• Phencyclidine (PCP)

Consequences of Drug Use

A driver must be removed from duty if a drug test is positive. The removal cannot take place until a medical review officer has interviewed the driver and determined that the positive drug test resulted from the unauthorized use of a controlled substance.

A driver cannot return to duty until he or she has:

• Been evaluated by a substance abuse professional

• Complied with recommended rehabilitation

• Received negative results on a return-to-duty drug test

• Follow-up testing is also required

Keeping Drug Testing Confidential

A driver’s drug test results and records are required to be maintained under strict confidentiality by the employer, the drug-testing laboratory and the medical review officer. They cannot be released to others without the written consent of the driver.

For more information, go to the FMCSA website:

For assistance with the procedures of how to conduct an alcohol or drug test, contact:

Office of the Secretary of Transportation

Office of Drug and Alcohol Program Compliance

Room 10317

400 Seventh Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20590

(202) 366-3784

Sentry Insurance is committed to helping you protect your business by providing resources to manage loss-producing situations and prevent accidents. For additional information visit, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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