What occurs during the testing process for drugs and alcohol?

Certain procedures are put in place for the testing of drugs and alcohol. The procedures for alcohol testing are as follows:

  1. A trained Breath Alcohol Technician or Screening Test Technician conducts an alcohol screening test using an approved breath or saliva testing device.
  2. The test is considered negative if anything under 0.02 comes back. The required paperwork is filled out and the employer is notified.
  3. If anything 0.02 or higher results, the driver is required to take a confirmation test within 30 minutes using an approved Evidential Breath Testing. Again, the required paperwork is completed and the employer is notified.
  4. If the confirmation test results come back as anything 0.02 or higher, the driver is required to stop all safety-sensitive functions.

If the results are somewhere between 0.02 and less than 0.04, the driver may return to duty after 24 hours. However, any driver with results of 0.04 or higher is referred to a substance abuse professional for treatment. After treatment is finished, the drivers can return to work after passing a return-to-duty test.

With regard to drug testing, the procedures are as follows.

  1. A trained collector collects a urine sample (a driver must be observed providing the sample in some circumstances).
  2. The collector splits the sample into 2 bottles and sends one of the bottles to a laboratory for testing.
  3. The laboratory determines the results and sends them to the Medical Review Officer.
  4. The officer reviews the results. If the test is negative, the employer is notified.

If the test results are not negative, the officer contacts the driver who has 72 hours to send the second bottle not tested to a different laboratory for testing. When those results are confirmed, the employer is notified. If the results are both positive, the driver is removed from duty and referred to a Substance Abuse Professional for treatment. After treatment is finished, the drivers can return to work after passing a return-to-duty test.

When is post-accident alcohol and drug testing required?

The FMCSR defined an “accident” as having at least one of the following elements:

  • A fatality
  • Injury to a person requiring immediate treatment away from the scene of the accident.
  • Disabling damage to any vehicle requiring it to be towed away from the scene.

If an accident results in a fatality, the driver must always undergo post-accident alcohol and drug testing (even if the driver was not cited). Furthermore, if the accident results in an injury or disabling damage to the vehicle, the driver is required to undergo post-accident alcohol and drug testing if he or she received a citation for a moving violation in connection with the accident. An alcohol test is required if the citation was received within 8 hours of the accident and a drug test is required if the citation was received within 32 hours of the accident.

When are the testing deadlines?

The alcohol test should be administered within 2 hours after the accident. Additionally, the drug test must take place within 32 hours after the accident. While the drug test is pending, the driver may continue to drive the CMV assuming law enforcement has not put any restrictions on the driver and as long as there is no “reasonable suspicion” by a supervisor that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The responsibilities of a driver who is subject to post-accident training are to remain available for testing and to refrain from consuming alcohol for 8 hours following the accident.