With few exceptions, drivers with a commercial driver’s license
(CDL) are subject to the controlled substance and alcohol
testing rules enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (FMCSA). This includes all full-time, part-time,
intermittent, backup, and international drivers.
A CDL is required for drivers operating a vehicle in excess of
26,000 pounds, one designed to carry 16 or more passengers
(including the driver), or one used in the transportation of
hazardous materials. This extends to interstate and intrastate
truck and motor coach operations, including those operated by
• federal, state, local, and tribal governments;
• church and civic organizations;
• farmers and custom harvesters;
• apiarian industries (bee keepers); and
• for-hire and private companies.
Active-duty military personnel and drivers whose place of
reporting for duty (home terminal) is located outside the U.S.
are exempt from these rules.
The FMCSA rules cover safety-sensitive transportation
employees. The FMCSA defines safety-sensitive functions as
• waiting to be dispatched at a carrier or shipper plant,
terminal, facility, or other property;
• inspecting, servicing, or conditioning equipment or
commercial motor vehicles;
• being at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle;
• being on or in a commercial motor vehicle (except for time
spent resting in the sleeper berth);
• loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle,
supervising or assisting in the loading or unloading,
attending a vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining
in readiness to operate a vehicle or in giving or receiving
receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded; and
• repairing, obtaining assistance for, or remaining in
attendance with a disabled vehicle.
The FMCSA prohibits performance of safety-sensitive functions
• while having a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04
percent or greater,
• while using alcohol,
• within four hour of using alcohol,
• when the employee refuses to submit to an alcohol or
controlled-substances test, or
• within eight hours after an accident or until tested,
whichever comes first.
The drug rules prohibit any unauthorized or illicit use of
controlled substances. The FMCSA has additional rules that
prohibit the use of legally prescribed controlled substances
by drivers involved in interstate commerce, while other
regulations require drivers to report any medical use of
controlled substances.
Testing
Alcohol and drug tests are required during the following times:
• Pre-employment – may be conducted before applicants
are hired or before a job offer is made, but must be
conducted before performing safety-sensitive functions.
Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation
www.txsafetyatwork.com
HS97-107D (10-16) 1
• Post-accident – conducted after accidents on drivers
whose performance could have contributed to the
accident (as determined by a citation for a moving traffic
violation) and for all fatal accidents, even if the driver is not
cited for a moving traffic violation.
• Reasonable suspicion – conducted when a trained
supervisor or company official observes behavior or
appearance that is characteristic of alcohol or drug misuse.
The employer’s suspicion must be based on specific
observations of the driver’s appearance, behavior, speech,
or body odor. The employer must also be able to clearly
articulate his or her observations and must do so around
the time of the incident. To help them make appropriate
determinations for reasonable-suspicion testing, all
supervisors and officials of businesses with drivers must
attend at least one hour of training in the signs and
symptoms of drug abuse.
• Random – conducted on a random, unannounced
basis immediately before, during, or immediately after
performance of safety-sensitive functions.
• Return-to-duty and follow-up – conducted when an
employee who has violated alcohol or controlled-substance-related conduct standards returns to performing
safety-sensitive duties. Follow-up tests are unannounced,
and at least six tests must be conducted during the first 12
months after a driver returns to duty.
Tests are required for
• marijuana (THC metabolite, cannabinoids, hash);
• cocaine (coke, crack);
• amphetamines (meth, speed, crank, ecstasy);
• opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine); and
• phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust).
Alcohol Testing
Alcohol testing rules require the use of evidential breath testing
(EBT) devices, also known as breathalyzers. Two breath tests
are required to determine whether a person has a prohibited
alcohol concentration. A screening test administered first with
any result less than 0.02 alcohol concentration is considered
a negative test. If the alcohol concentration is 0.02 or greater,
a second confirmation test must be conducted using an EBT
that prints the results, date, time, sequential test number, and
brand and serial number of the EBT to ensure reliability of the
results. The confirmation test results determine any actions to
be taken.
Drug Testing
Drug testing is conducted by analyzing a driver’s urine
specimen. The driver provides a urine specimen that is
sealed by a “collector” and then labeled and prepared for
shipment. The analysis is performed at laboratories certified
and monitored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services.
Drivers who violate FMCSA rules on alcohol use or who
test positive for drug use must be immediately removed
from safety-sensitive functions. They cannot return to those
duties until they have been evaluated by a substance abuse
professional and have complied with any recommended
treatments. Drivers whose conduct involved alcohol must
undergo a return-to-duty alcohol test and must have a breath
alcohol level less than 0.02. Drivers who test positive for drugs
must have a return-to-duty drug test that is negative.
Employers must provide information on drug use and
treatment resources to safety-sensitive drivers. Employers,
drug testing laboratories, and substance abuse professionals
must maintain driver drug and alcohol test results and records
under strict confidentiality and cannot release the records to
others without the written consent of the driver.

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