DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing For Trucking Companies

DOT drug and alcohol testing is required for trucking companies and bus companies. It is important if you operate a business as an owner-operator or you have truck drivers or bus drivers that you are familiar with the DOT rules and regulation for drug and alcohol testing. National Drug Screening (NDS) maintains a comprehensive section on the NDS web site call DOT Drug Testing & Services. This is your guide to everything DOT drug testing.

In this DOT drug testing video, we will cover:

In this video of the NDS Video Blog series, Joe Reilly discusses what it takes for Trucking (and Bus) Companies to stay compliant with The Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing program. When should a DOT test be used? When should a DOT Post Accident test be used? Should you fire someone who’s tested positive on a drug test? Joe answers these questions and a whole lot more in today’s video.

Joe Reilly, President of National Drug Screening. In our video blog series today, we’re going to focus on the drug and alcohol testing requirements for trucking companies.

We specialize in working with private fleets, with for-hire carriers, with small trucking and bus companies throughout the United States. We’re going to talk about what the requirements are for you for DOT drug and alcohol testing.

FMCSA DOT Drivers – Who is a covered Employee

In this video today, I’m going to talk about the DOT requirements for drug and alcohol testing for businesses regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA, specifically the trucking industry and the bus industry. And for those that have trucks and buses, you are required to have DOT drug and alcohol testing if you have drivers with CDL licenses that operate commercial motor vehicles on public roads and those vehicles either, 1) Are 26,001 pounds or more weight rating, 2) Transporting passengers 16 or more, including the driver or, 3) Vehicle of any size transporting hazardous materials and required to be placarded for those hazardous materials.

So it’s important to make a distinction between your CDL drivers that operate in one of those three criteria that I mentioned, and those that may operate a box truck or a pickup truck, something smaller than 26,001 pounds or not transporting hazardous materials. Those drivers are not subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements. And those drivers should not be given a DOT drug test.
It’s important to do DOT drug testing when it’s required, and when it’s not required it’s important to do non-DOT drug testing.

For DOT drug testing, if you’re using a paper custody and control form, it will say the word Federal on the top of the form. Do not use that form if the driver does not meet one of the three criteria that I mentioned; the vehicles over 26,000 pounds weight rating, the vehicle is transporting hazardous materials and needs to be placarded or the vehicle’s transporting 16 or more passengers, including the driver. So our 13 passenger van would not qualify for DOT drug and alcohol testing.

What’s Required for the DOT FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Testing Program

So what’s required? Well, there’s a list of things that are required for an employer that has truck drivers or bus drivers to be in compliance with the DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations. You need a policy. You need a written policy that’s distributed to your drivers. You need employee education about the regulations and about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, that is distributed to your drivers. You need supervisor training for those supervisors who supervise your drivers. That supervisor training is a two hour program. It’s for reasonable suspicion determinations and reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing. You need to be able to provide to a driver who tests positive a list of substance abuse professionals. Because that driver who tests positive must be removed from your covered position, must be removed from driving that commercial motor vehicle, and must go into a program with a substance abuse professional, commonly called a SAP. As the employer, it’s your responsibility to provide the list of SAPs that that employee can contact. From there, it’s up to the employee. It’s up to your driver.

Now, do you have to fire that driver? That’s your decision.

Can you keep that driver on board? That’s your decision.

The driver cannot operate the commercial motor vehicle until they complete the program with the substance abuse professional.

And the next thing that you need to be in compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations is the drug and alcohol testing.

When do you perform DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing

So we do drug testing for preemployment. You don’t need to do alcohol testing for preemployment, but you can if you want to. If you do it for one, you got to do it for all. Most companies are not doing preemployment alcohol testing.

You need to do testing after an accident that meets specific DOT criteria. I’ll come back to that.

You need to do testing based on reasonable suspicion, as determined by that trained supervisor.

You need to do random testing. You need to have a random testing program with your drivers or be enrolled in a random testing consortium. If it’s just your drivers, we call that a standalone random testing pool. If you’re a smaller company and you’re putting your drivers into a consortium, you’re in a random testing pool with drivers from other companies, and perhaps owner-operators also.

When someone comes out of the substance abuse professional program and you’re allowing them to come back to work, they need to have a return-to-duty drug test and it needs to be negative. And that test needs to be directly observed by the urine specimen collector. That same individual coming back to work will have a schedule of follow-up tests that have been required by the substance abuse professional. As the employer, you are responsible to administer those follow-up tests.

It could be six over a 12 month period, it could be 60 over a 60 month period. It’s up to the SAP and you as the employer cannot override that. Those follow-up tests are all required to be direct observed. That driver is still back in your random program when they start driving, if they get selected for a random test, you do the random test. If they’re also due for the follow-up test, do that on another day. The random test and the follow-up test are not one in the same.

If you’re bringing a driver back to work or you’re hiring a driver that came out of a substance abuse professional, and they need their required return-to-duty test, in that case, that can also be the preemployment test. So you wouldn’t need to do both tests. The return-to-duty test can satisfy the requirement for the preemployment test.

FMCSA DOT Post Accident Testing Criteria

Now I mentioned post-accident testing. This is one of the most confused areas because the DOT post-accident drug and alcohol test is only required when certain criteria is met.

So what is that criteria?

This is often misunderstood. If the accident doesn’t meet this criteria, it should not be a DOT test. Maybe your company policy requires a test after any accident, so if the accident doesn’t meet this criteria, do a non-DOT test.

So what’s the criteria?

1) There’s a death involved in the accident.

There’s a fatality. Someone dies. You always are required to do the DOT drug and alcohol test.

2) There is a person who is injured in the accident and transported away from the scene of the accident for medical attention, AND your driver got a ticket. It’s gotta be both.

So someone got hurt or transported away for medical attention, your driver got a ticket.

3) Last one. There is disabling damage to a vehicle in the accident requiring a tow away, AND your driver got a ticket. Gotta be both.

Any other accident doesn’t meet the criteria, should not be DOT testing.

What About a DOT Audit or Inspection on my Drug Testing Program

So at National Drug Screening, we work with lots of trucking companies, private fleets, for-hire carriers, small trucking companies, bus companies, large trucking companies. We provide a complete compliance package. And if you get an audit, the first thing we ask is send us a letter, send us the letter that you got about the audit, and we’ll help you put everything together to pass the audit. That’s part of our service, when you retain us as your Third Party Administrator for DOT drug and alcohol testing program.

You can call us, the number’s on the screen.

You can go to our website,

We’ve been in the business for 25+ years. We know the DOT regulations inside and out, and we can keep you in compliance.