Random Drug Testing 101

Test Vial at a Lab Office

Random Drug Testing 101

Because truck drivers are in such safety-sensitive positions, the DOT requires random drug testing to ensure that drivers are of sound mind to operate the trucks. But how exactly does the random selection process work? Is it really random? Who’s doing the selecting?

Here’s a few basics of the random drug testing process.

How Does Random Drug Selection Work?

It’s as simple as your drivers’ names being put into a testing pool. A computer-generated selection will be made so that all employees have an equal chance of being chosen for drug testing. Once a driver is selected, he or she needs to report for their test immediately in order to prevent the opportunity to rid their system of any illegal drugs.

Multiple Random Selections are Actually Random

A driver can be randomly selected multiple times in a calendar year—even within a short period of time. In fact, it’s common. All drivers have an equal chance of being randomly selected during each selection time, no matter if they’ve just been selected the previous time or not.

If one of your drivers is randomly selected multiple times, he or she may feel as though they’re being singled out and unfairly targeted—especially if the other drivers aren’t being randomly selected. If this is the case, let the driver in question know that random selections are made from a computer-generated, completely unbiased selection system. Explain that every driver is equal when it comes to the random selection process.

Because a driver may feel that this is unfair, you may be interested in sending another driver in their place. However, this isn’t allowed. Per DOT regulations, it must be the driver who was selected that has to take the test, even if they’ve just been tested last period.

Advance Notifications are a No-No

Alerting a driver that they have been randomly selected before you’re supposed to isn’t allowed. You cannot give he or she advanced notification, since the whole point of random selection is that the tests are unannounced to the employees.

Randomly Selected Occasional Drivers

If there are drivers who work for you that barely ever drive, such as a company partner or a bi-monthly driver, for instance, they may get randomly selected for drug testing. If this is the case, you may be hesitant to send them for a test, since they don’t drive much. However, these barely-ever drivers still need to be tested. The test may be able to work around their schedule, but they will still need to be tested. By DOT regulation, anyone who drives for your company—no matter how little—must be included in the random selection group.

Drivers and Prescribed Medications

Let’s say one of your drivers is on pain meds and gets randomly selected for drug testing. Most likely, he or she will be worried about the drug test coming back positive. This is what MROs (medical review officers) are for, however. If the test comes back from the lab positive, the MRO, who is highly trained in medications that may cause a false positive in lab results, will speak with the driver to determine if the medication is legitimately needed and legal. A driver who is taking the medication prescribed and in the manner it is prescribed shouldn’t have anything to be concerned about.

Arranged Random Drug Testing Isn’t Allowed

Many company owners wonder if they can arrange a random selection. Drug testing is a delicate area, and while the owner may suspect one of their drivers of doing drugs, they might not want to accuse them because they’re friends. However, in this case, the owner will need to send the driver for a reasonable suspicion drug test, not an “arranged” random selection test. By conducting a “random” test that has been arranged, you could be putting your company at risk for legal action, since there would be no documentation that shows how the individual was selected for random testing. A reasonable suspicion test happens when a driver has given reason for others to believe he or she may be doing drugs, such as speech, behavior, or odors of the driver. You may frustrate your driver, but by testing him or her in the right way, you could be saving lives.

These are the basics of random drug selection—a highly-effective way to ensure that your drivers are keeping a clear head on the road.

For more information about random drug testing and the requirements involved, check out Consortium Pool’s DOT Compliance page. We are a DOT Alcohol and Drug Testing Consortium offering nationwide DOT drug and alcohol testing for commercial trucking companies and self-owned and operated truckers. Take a look at the programs we offer, and contact us if you have any questions that we can help answer.