DOT 101: Common Mistakes in Complying with Drug and Alcohol Testing Mandates

As the owner of a vehicle fleet, whether for public transportation or private limousines, you have a great responsibility to ensure you are always compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). The public’s safety depends on you, but your business does as well because thousands of penalties are cited every year. You may also see legal implications if your drivers aren’t complying with industry standards.

If you wish to be a well-informed motor carrier company, educate yourself on the most common mistakes the FMCSA sees every year so you can avoid being another citation.

Not Making Drug and Alcohol Testing a Priority

The most common violation the Department of Transportation sees is motor carriers neglecting to make drug and alcohol testing a priority by creating an employee program. It is a requirement to pass a DOT compliant test to first receive your card but employers may neglect to enforce employees to regularly screen for traces of drugs and alcohol. A motor carrier is required to complete DOT drug and alcohol testing no matter if they operate good transportation, passengers, or are private carriers.

Not Selecting at Random

The FMCSA requires that motor carriers follow the random selection process when choosing drivers to be tested. There are some who completely fail to select at random, while others fail to send selected drivers, draw at inappropriate rates, and don’t adjust the draw pool according to changes in the number of drivers. Although many motor carriers choose to hire an outside party to handle the selection process, the motor carrier is still held responsible and needs to provide the outside party with an updated list of drivers. This will ensure the selection process is done according to the appropriate rate. This also means that just because a driver may have been selected for testing the last draw or earlier in the year doesn’t mean they can be given a break. In order to avoid citations with the FMCSA, motor carriers need to treat all employees equally without making their busy schedules come before the importance of testing.

Hiring a Driver Before Receiving the Results

One of the top cracked down upon citations is when employees do not wait to see the results of the pre-employment drug and alcohol testing before letting an employee drive a vehicle. If an employee has not been in the DOT program for more than thirty days, they are labeled as pre-employment and must take a test. Many employers make the mistake of thinking that it is a return to duty test, but this label is only issued when there was a violation involved. Even if the driver’s doctor says they are fine to operate vehicles, they still need to be tested to comply with the DOT.

Hiring a Driver with a Positive Drug Test

The FMCSA has found that many employers have hired and then used drivers with a past violation of failing a drug and alcohol testing. Only if a return to duty process has begun, or the new employer is willing to initiate it, can they hire a driver with a past violation for future work. If a driver has a past violation with a drug and alcohol test, that violation will never go away and will travel with them throughout their career. It is the employer’s job and fully within their right to ask about the driver’s history to find out if they failed testing and have completed the return to duty process.

Not Retesting a Driver After an Accident

A drug and alcohol test is required immediately following a fatal accident, even if the driver was not cited. But many employers are confused whether or not these post-accident tests are required. After an accident involving one of your drivers, they need to be tested for alcohol within eight hours and tested for drugs within 32 hours. This timing also applies for accidents that involved damage, immediate medical treatment, and the driver being cited. If the driver is not available for testing within these time frames, the DOT will consider it a refusal to be tested.

Now you know of the most common and important violations the DOT sees across the industry. As an employer or owner of a fleet, take the pledge today to follow all of these requirements to protect the safety of those you employ as well as the general public.

For more information about DOT drug and alcohol testing and the requirements involved, check out Consortium Pool.