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[Video Blog] Owner-Operator Consortium Program, An Overview

Starting out as a truck driver is a challenging task with all the regulations, licensing, insurance and of course the required drug & alcohol testing program.  As an owner-operator, you will be required to join a Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing consortium.

How an Owner-Operator Consortium Program works

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires owner operators to join a drug and alcohol testing consortium typically managed by a Consortium/Third Party Administrator (C/TPA).  There are many owner operator consortium programs to choose from so you must be careful to join a reputable consortium at a fair price.  Some consortiums will charge you an annual fee and then another fee for each random drug or alcohol test you are selected for.  In this case, you could get picked several times a year for a random drug or alcohol test and pay for this testing several times a year.  At National Drug Screening, Inc (NDS) our owner-operator consortium program annual fee includes the cost of all random tests for which you are selected.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not approve or certify any specific Consortium/Third Party Administrator (C/TPA), so it is important to check references and deal with a professional company.  The C/TPA will help you to manage your required drug & alcohol testing program.   Ask questions and make sure the C/TPA knows the DOT regulation 49 CFR Part 40 and FMCSA Part 382.  A good C/TPA will coordinate for you the collection site for specimen collection, the laboratory to perform the testing and the review of the result by the medical review officer (MRO).

The consortium will consist of drivers from many trucking companies and many owner-operators.  The consortium operator will fill the shoes of a designated employer representative (DER) and as such is authorized to perform some employer functions in cases of owner-operators, and single driver employers.  Remember that as the company owner even as an owner-operator; you are ultimately responsible for all compliance with the drug & alcohol testing regulations.

Owner-Operator Consortium Program requirements

You need the following as an owner-operator to be compliant with the DOT – FMCSA drug & alcohol testing regulations:

  • Pre-employment negative drug test
  • Enrollment into the random consortium
  • Drug & alcohol testing is required when there is reasonable suspicion, return to duty after a previous violation, follow up after an earlier violation, after an accident meeting specific criteria and when selected by the owner-operator consortium program for random testing
  • An enrollment certificate and an agreement for services is a great best practice

How to know if you are required to participate DOT Drug and alcohol program

How do you know if you are a safety-sensitive employee subject to the 49 CFR 382 FMCSA regulations?  How do you know if you are required to have DOT – FMCSA drug and alcohol testing? It is a simple formula: Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders who operate Commercial Motor Vehicles, 26,001 lbs. gross vehicle weight or greater, or operate a vehicle that carries 16 passengers or more including the driver, or required to display a DOT placard in the transportation of hazardous material.

If you have not yet joined a drug & alcohol testing owner-operator consortium program, now is the time to call National Drug Screening.  You will receive excellent service from a friendly team with fair pricing.  A complete random drug testing consortium package is available. One annual fee will cover the costs of all your random drug & alcohol tests for which you are selected.  You will be immediately provided your Certificate of Enrollment into the random consortium, and you will receive step by step easy instructions to become DOT compliant immediately.

Read more about DOT drug and alcohol testing