One of the most commonly asked questions we receive is whether the roadside inspection includes drug testing. Starting in April 2020, enforcement personnel who stop drivers with a CDL or DLP now also check the FMCSA Clearinghouse to see if they have any unresolved issues. Keep reading as we discover everything you need to know about a roadside inspection and the drug and alcohol testing during this process.
A roadside inspection is an examination of a commercial motor vehicle that is undertaken by Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) inspectors. The aim of these inspections is to improve the safety of our roads, and they can help to reduce the number of injuries and crashes that take place involving large trucks and vehicles. They are conducted to ensure our roads remain safe, and if any violations are found during this time that is considered too serious to drive safely, these need to be corrected before the driver or vehicle can continue working.
To make matters a little more confusing, there are actually eight different levels of inspection that could be conducted. This is one of the reasons that the topic of roadside inspections and DOT inspection violations is so confusing to many drivers and companies. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of roadside inspection and whether they involve drug testing.
A Level I inspection involves the driver and the vehicle and is the most comprehensive of the options. This will involve checking alcohol and drug use and reviewing the driver’s Commercial Driver’s License. As well as this, they’ll look at the record of duty status, the vehicle inspection report, and Medical Examiner’s and Skill Performance Evaluation (SKE) certificates.
A level II inspection only involves checking what you can see without getting underneath the vehicle, however, a driver inspection is still involved in this process. They’ll check your alcohol and drug use records and review your CDL, Medical Examiner’s, and SKE certificates. The vehicle inspection focuses on anything you can see from the outside and inside of the truck, such as the tires, brakes, and suspensions.
While these are two of the most common roadside inspection options, keep in mind there are other ways to assess for DOT inspection violations. It’s important to understand the differences between these inspections so that you are aware of what they are looking for during the roadside inspection. When it comes to drug testing, a Level III inspection focuses on the driver credentials, which will include drug and alcohol use. There are also options for vehicle-only inspection and special inspections, which are used more rarely.
As we shared earlier, from April 1, 2020, inspectors also started checking for any unresolved issues within the FMCSA. They’ll be able to see if any driver that they stop is prohibited from driving at the current time or has DOT inspection violations in place. If they are violating these regulations and are stopped by an inspector, they will be placed out of service as a result of their roadside inspection. A prohibited status refers to anyone who has had a previous alcohol or drug testing violation but didn’t complete the return to duty process in order to clear this violation and safely return to work. This is something that drivers and companies need to take incredibly seriously and never overlook when hiring new drivers. It means that the driver and vehicle will be removed from the roadway until they are able to fully correct the violation.
This new update to the roadside inspection policies is one that many companies are still not aware of but can easily catch people out if they don’t properly check records before employing new drivers. It will help to make our roads safer for everyone on them and ensure that no one is returning to work too soon after a violation. The officials who are carrying out the inspection don’t have direct access to the Clearinghouse, but they use Query Central or CDLIS Gateway to receive the required data. The FMCSA Clearinghouse has been in place since January 6, 2020, and allows violations to be recorded following drug and alcohol testing. Even when drug testing isn’t carried out as part of a roadside inspection, inspectors can now easily find out about past violations without having to carry out testing then and there.
While we’ve primarily covered roadside inspections so far, it’s important to note that there are other times where you may be required to undergo drug and alcohol testing. One of these such times is following an accident or incident, where you may be tested to ensure you weren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol when it happened. As you know, random testing and roadside inspections can take place at any time during your career, and DOT inspection violations can result in hefty fines for companies. For that reason, drivers and companies alike need to always remain in compliance and stay on top of current policy changes to avoid any further issues. This can help you to avoid losing drivers from your company or risk your job and livelihood when working as a driver yourself.
As you can see, these new policy changes have added a new layer to the roadside inspection process. However, we are sure you will agree that the safety and wellbeing of drivers on our roads are of the most importance, which is why we think this is a great addition to the roadside inspection process. By ensuring that your team is always in compliance at all times and that no one returns to work too soon following a violation, you can avoid any hefty fines and violations in the future for your company. If you’re searching for DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing or Clearinghouse support, Labworks USA has everything you need and will be here to support you before and after roadside inspections.Back to Blogs