Oct 12, 2021

Laws for Random Drug Testing

The laws for random drug testing in the U.S. might seem overwhelming when you first start to research this area. However, as a trucker, you need to ensure you are aware of the rules and regulations that might impact your career. 

That's why most trucking companies find it more convenient and practical to be part of a Consortium/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs) like Labworks USA to manage all, or part, of an employer's DOT drug and alcohol testing program. We perform tasks as agreed to by the employer to assist in implementing the drug and alcohol testing program and to help keep the employer compliant with the DOT/FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing rules and regulations. We as a DOT Consortium can help you.

Drug testing can take place at almost any time in your career as a trucker, and both drivers and logistics companies need to be fully aware of when and where this testing should take place to remain in compliance.

When Can Random Drug Testing for Truckers Take Place?

CDL drivers are all subject to unannounced random testing under the laws for random drug testing. This could even take place when you are at home or off-duty, so it’s something to keep in mind at all times. In comparison to random drug testing laws, alcohol testing can only take place when you are on duty or just before or after your shift. When you are asked to obtain a random drug test, you’ll need to report for testing immediately at the location you are requested to visit. Laws for random drug testing state that a delayed arrival can result in your refusal. A refusal is treated in the same way as testing positive, which is something people often don’t realize when they are researching random drug testing laws.

Which Drivers Can Be Tested at Random?

All CDL drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles on a public roadway are subject to laws for random drug testing. This includes individuals who drive vehicles over 26,000 GVWR, transport more than 16 passengers, or deal with hazardous materials. Any driver who is required to hold a CDL or equivalent license from a foreign country can be tested. This includes individuals who are employed by State, Federal, or local government agencies. As well as full-time truckers, part-time drivers are included under random drug testing laws. One exception to these laws for random drug testing is in regards to anyone who only operates CMVs on private property, which isn’t open to the public. They don’t require random drug testing, but a soon as they start operating on public roads, they will now be included in laws for random drug testing.

For your reference, here's a list of DOT Consortium services we offer at Labworks USA with respective rates.

Reasonable Suspicion Testing

While this type of testing doesn’t fall under the category of random testing, as a trucker, reasonable suspicion testing may be unexpected to you. Supervisors trained by the DOT can direct a driver to be tested for alcohol or drugs whenever they are suspicious of your use of either of these substances. This can be based on a wide range of factors, but observations must be made for this type of testing to take place. Random drug testing laws state that if a supervisor has concerns about your appearance, speed, body odor, or behavior, you must be tested to ensure you aren’t under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

Follow-Up Testing

For anyone who has been banned from driving following a positive test, you’ll also be subject to random drug testing laws following your return to work. Follow-up tests for drugs and alcohol are prescribed by the substance abuse professional who signs you off to return to work. You’ll need at minimum six unannounced tests during your first 12 months back at work. However, they can also prescribe testing for up to five years for anyone who either tested positive or refused to test at some point in the past. It’s important to note these tests will be on top of those covered for all drivers under the laws for random drug testing, and these tests can’t double up for each other.

What Happens During a Random Drug Test?

A random drug test isn’t much different from a standard drug test you may have taken in the past. When you are notified that you must attend a random drug test, you’ll have to report to the specified collection site immediately. The DOT laws for random drug testing only recognize 5-panel urinalysis tests as the means of drug testing for prohibited drugs. If any issues are found, or if you are subject to return to work testing, you will be directly observed during this testing process. You only have up to three hours to provide your sample, and if you leave before the sample is collected, this will be marked as a refusal. The only exception to this is due to medical conditions, which you’ll need to discuss before the sample collection.

Once your sample has been collected, the laboratory will report the results to an MRO. If the result is positive, the MRO will then contact the driver to see if there is any valid reason for the test returning positive. After clarifying that there are no exceptions for the positive test, you will then be removed from your job role immediately. Your employer will then have to work with a registered SAP to begin the return to duty process. This will need to be fully completed after refusing a drug test or testing positive so that you can return to your job in the future. Of course, you’ll find that this puts a lot of financial strain and stress onto your family during the process, and you’ll find that many employers won’t want to hire individuals who’ve tested positive under random drug testing laws in the past.

Random drug testing can result in drivers losing their job immediately, which is why it’s critical for drivers to understand the laws for random drug testing at any stage in their career. You’ll want to ensure you keep yourself up to date about changes in the industry so that you aren’t caught short at any time in your career. The safety of everyone on the roads is of top concern to drivers and employers, which is why random drug testing laws are in place throughout the country.

For more information about DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing or random drug testing laws, Labworks USA has everything you need. Contact us to discuss any concerns or questions you have today.

Our DOT Consortium's friendly team will be more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have and work with you to ensure you are always fully compliant, especially with random DOT drug and alcohol testing and pre-employment testing. Moreover, if you need help with FMCSA Clearinghouse registration, we can further support you.