D&A Testing Guidance for Motor Carriers

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The FMCSA requires all companies that employ drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles to create and maintain certain Substance and Alcohol Testing Programs to ensure the safety of our roads. This article aims to provide a brief overview of the different D&A testing requirements set forth by the DOT.

By no means is this a complete guide. Please refer to PART 382 – CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND ALCOHOL USE AND TESTING for a complete list of requirements and best practices.


Companies subject to these requirements include but are not limited to: 

  • For-hire and private companies
  • Federal, State, local, and tribal governments
  • Church and civic organizations
  • Apiarian industries (bee farms)

There are at least 6 different kinds of D&A testing programs that companies need to document and manage.

These include:

  • Pre-Employment Drug & Alcohol Screening
  • Random D&A Program
  • Reasonable Suspicion
  • Post Accident (when applicable)
  • Return to Duty
  • Follow Up

Pre-Employment Drug & Alcohol Screening

No employer shall allow a driver to perform a safety-sensitive function until they have received a negative controlled substance test result.

The DOT defines a safety-sensitive worker as someone who holds a job that can impact both their own safety and the safety of the public. Some of these safety-sensitive duties include operating a train or ferry, working with explosive/flammable materials, driving CMVs, operating Forlifts, etc.


Random Drug & Alcohol Programs

Companies are to randomly test drivers at a minimum annual percentage rate of 10% of the number of drivers for alcohol testing, and 50% for controlled substances testing.

This means if a company employs 100 drivers, 10 of them should be randomly pulled for alcohol testing and 50 of them for controlled substances testing annually.

The random D&A tests must be performed immediately prior, during, or immediately after a driver is about to, or has performed a safety-sensitive function and all drivers must have an equal chance of being selected.


Reasonable Suspicion Drug & Alcohol Testing

Employers must require a driver to submit to an alcohol and/or controlled substance test when the employer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver has violated the prohibitions concerning alcohol and/or controlled substances laws & policies.

The employer’s determination that reasonable suspicion exists to require the driver to undergo a D&A test must be based on specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the driver.

The observations MUST be made by a supervisor or company official who is trained in accordance with 382.603.


Post Accident Drug & Alcohol Test

Following an accident involving a CMV where any of the following conditions are true, employers are required to conduct a Drug & Alcohol test on all surviving drivers:

  • If the accident involved the loss of human life.
  • If the driver receives a citation under state or local law for a moving traffic violation arising from the accident.
  • If the accident involved: Bodily injury to any person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident.
  • One or more of the vehicles incurs disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring it to be towed from the scene.

Return to Duty D&A Test

Employers MUST ensure that a driver returning to a safety-sensitive position after engaging in prohibited activities relating to drugs or alcohol undergoes a “Return to Duty” test with a result indicating a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of less than 0.02 and a controlled substance test indicating a verified negative result for drugs.


Follow Up D&A Test

If a substance abuse professional has determined that a driver needs assistance for the misuse of drugs or alcohol, an employer must ensure that the driver receives follow-up testing.

The minimum requirement is six tests in the first 12 months with a maximum timeframe of 60 months.


There are specific time-frame requirements for keeping records documenting testing program policies and results so be sure to read up on those as well.

We hope this helps!


Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not cover the full extent of the regulations. Read directly from the eCFR website for accurate information about policymaking.

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