Drug and Alcohol Testing


The FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse went into effect on Jan. 6. All drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) should be aware of how the Clearinghouse will impact them.H ere are some useful facts about the federal drug and alcohol testing requirements. Find more information at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov.


Generally, anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) (per §382.107) and holds a CDL is subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing. This includes all full-time, part-time, intermittent, backup, and international drivers. Drivers who operate CMVs only on private property are exempted from testing.


CDL drivers are subject to each of the following types of tests:

  • Pre-Employment – New drivers must obtain a negative drug test result to operate a CMV on a public road. An alcohol test is permitted only if all CDL drivers are alcohol tested.
  • Post-Accident – CDL drivers involved in an accident resulting in a fatality or receiving a traffic citation resulting from an injury or a disabled vehicle must be drug tested within 32 hours and alcohol tested within eight hours.
  • Random Testing – CDL drivers are subject to unannounced random drug and/or alcohol testing. For random drug tests, drivers can be selected from a testing pool at any time, even if off-duty at home. However, according to §382.305(m), “A driver shall only be tested for alcohol while the driver is performing safety-sensitive functions, just before the driver is to perform safety-sensitive functions, or just after the driver has ceased performing such functions.” When selected, drivers must report immediately to the testing location. Any delay could be considered a refusal to test.
  • Reasonable Suspicion – If a driver exhibits signs of drug or alcohol use, a DOT-trained supervisor can direct a driver to be drug or alcohol tested.
  • Return to Duty – A driver who completes the return-to-duty process following a positive test or refusal must be tested under direct observation and test negative before returning to work.
  • Follow Up – Follow-up drug and alcohol tests are required as prescribed by the substance abuse professional (SAP) who signs the return-to-duty report.


The testing procedures can be found in 49 CFR Part 40 Subpart E and Part 40 Subpart L. To protect their own interests, drivers should be familiar with the testing process to ensure proper procedures are followed.


Test results will report an alcohol concentration of .04 or more and the following controlled substances: amphetamines and methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates (opium and codeine derivatives), and phencyclidine (PCP).


Yes, but a refusal to test is treated like a positive test and will appear in the Clearinghouse.


A driver will be immediately removed from operating a CMV on public roadways if he/she tests positive, including independent contractors. To be able to return to duty, the driver must complete a substance abuse program (SAP).


Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.

The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.

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