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DOT Physicals & Certified DOT FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Testing Center

ALCOHOL AND DRUG RULES: AN OVERVIEW

The following is a general overview of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) alcohol and drug testing rules for persons required to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL).

 

The information is intended to provide a general summary of the rules, including procedures for urine drug testing and breath alcohol testing; it should not be relied upon to fulfill all legal requirements stipulated in the regulations. It does not contain many of the requirements or special circumstances detailed in the FMCSA and DOT rules.

 

WHAT ARE THE RULES?

The FMCSA regulations require alcohol and drug testing of drivers, who are required to have a CDL. The DOT rules include procedures for urine drug testing and breath alcohol testing. Urine drug testing rules were first issued in December 1989. In 1994, the rules were amended to add breath alcohol testing procedures. In the years following the implementation of the drug and alcohol testing requirements, a number of factors including changes in testing technology, and the issuance of a number of written interpretations, required OST to review and revise the rules. In December of 2000, OST published final rules that incorporated these factors, as well as input from the public sector, into the existing drug and alcohol testing regulations. In August of 2001, the FMCSA revised modal specific drug and alcohol testing regulations published in 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 382 to reflect the revisions made by OST.

 

WHO IS AFFECTED BY THESE RULES?

The FMCSA rules apply to safety-sensitive employees, who operate commercial motor vehicles requiring a CDL.

Examples of drivers and employers that are subject to these rules are (the following does not represent a complete listing):

 

•Anyone who owns or leases commercial motor vehicles

•Anyone who assigns drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles

•Federal, State, and Local governments

•For-Hire Motor Carriers

•Private Motor Carriers

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

 

WHAT ALCOHOL USE IS PROHIBITED?

Alcohol is a legal substance; therefore, Performance of safety-sensitive functions is prohibited:

•While using alcohol.

•While having a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or greater as indicated by an alcohol breath test.

•Within four hours after using alcohol.

In addition, refusing to submit to an alcohol test or using alcohol within eight hours after an accident or until tested (for drivers required to be tested) are prohibited.

 

WHAT ALCOHOL TESTS ARE REQUIRED?

The following alcohol tests are required:

•Post-accident - conducted after accidents on drivers whose performance could have contributed to the accident (as determined by a citation for a moving traffic violation) and for all fatal accidents even if the driver is not cited for a moving traffic violation.

•Reasonable suspicion - conducted when a trained supervisor or company official observes behavior or appearance that is characteristic of alcohol misuse.

•Random - conducted on a random unannounced basis just before, during, or just after performance of safety-sensitive functions.

•Return-to-duty and follow-up - conducted when an individual who has violated the prohibited alcohol conduct standards returns to performing safety-sensitive duties. Follow-up tests are unannounced. At least 6 tests must be conducted in the first 12 months after a driver returns to duty. Follow-up testing may be extended for up to 60 months following return to duty.

 

HOW DOES RANDOM ALCOHOL TESTING WORK?

Random alcohol testing must be conducted just before, during, or just after a driver's performance of safety-sensitive duties. The driver is randomly selected for testing from a "pool" of subject drivers. The testing dates and times are unannounced and are reasonably spread throughout the year. Each year, the number of random tests conducted by the employer must equal at least 10% of average number of driver positions subject to the regulations.

 

HOW WILL ALCOHOL TESTING BE DONE?

The rules allow for screening tests to be conducted using saliva devices or breath testing using evidential breath testing (EBT) and non-evidential breath testing devices approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA periodically publishes a list of approved devices in the Federal Register.

 

Two tests are required to determine if a person has a prohibited alcohol concentration. A screening test is conducted first. Any result less than 0.02 alcohol concentration is considered a "negative" test. If the alcohol concentration is 0.02 or greater, a second confirmation test must be conducted. The driver and the individual conducting the confirmation breath test (called a breath alcohol technician (BAT) complete the alcohol testing form to ensure that the results are properly recorded. The confirmation test, if required, must be conducted using an EBT that prints out the results, date and time, a sequential test number, and the name and serial number of the EBT to ensure the reliability of the results. The confirmation test results determine any actions taken.

 

Testing procedures that ensure accuracy, reliability and confidentiality of test results are outlined in the Part 40 rule. These procedures include training and proficiency requirements for the screening test technicians (STT), breath alcohol technicians (BAT), quality assurance plans for the breath testing devices (including calibration requirements for a suitable test location), and protection of driver test records.

 

WHO DOES THE TESTING?

Employers are responsible for implementing and conducting the testing programs. They may do this using their own employees or contract services, or by joining together in a consortium that provides services to all member companies. Law enforcement officers will not conduct the tests as part of roadside or other inspections. However, under certain circumstances, post-accident tests conducted by law enforcement personnel will be acceptable. Any individual conducting the test must be trained to operate the EBT and be proficient in the breath testing procedures.  abuse professional. Any other release of this information is only with the driver's written consent. If a driver initiates a grievance, hearing, lawsuit, or other action as a result of a violation of these rules, the employer may release relevant information to the decision maker.