Drug and alcohol testing for commercial drivers – what you need to know

Jan 12, 2020 in Regulations and road rules, Safety, Trucking Industry

Drug and alcohol testing is one of the many procedures and protocols by the Department of Transportation (DOT) which are created and integrated in order to assure the safety of commercial drivers and people on the road, in general.

Who is it meant for?

The drug and alcohol test is required by the Department of Transportation. All drivers with CDL (Commercial Driver License) must complete the drug and alcohol test if they want to be able to practice their job. This includes drivers with commercial driver license working full-time and part-time.

What is it exactly?

The drug and alcohol test are meant to show if there is presence of drugs and/or alcohol in the driver’s system. The alcohol test checks if there is a 0.02 or more alcohol concentration in the body of the driver, while the drug test looks for the presence of marijuana, opiates, cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines, PCP, phencyclidine and codeine derivatives. Of course, this list of drugs doesn’t cover all drugs, so some employers tend to require their own drug test on top of the one required by the Department of Transportation.

Usually, the results of these tests are required by the employer before the driver is hired to be part of a commercial trucking company. The drug and alcohol testing is also required after a driver for commercial trucking company gets involved in a road accident. It is fair to say that these tests are one of the most important for the safety of all people on the road, including the driver himself.

What is the procedure?

There is not a single drug and alcohol testing procedure, as they are rather numerous procedures. And it can be quite complex. However, keeping in mind that the ultimate goal of all this is safety – a driver with commercial driving license should follow those procedures as strictly as it gets.

Every driver that needs to complete the drug and alcohol testing can receive a thorough information for the required documentation and all the procedures from the Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) office of the Department of Transportation. They have a handbook meant to help commercial drivers get informed on the process, called What Employees Need to Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing.

What happens if the test is positive?

If a drug or alcohol test is positive – this means that drugs or alcohol is present in the system of the driver. The driver then should work closely with the employer in order to resolve the situation in a proper fashion.

Such test results clearly show that the tested commercial driver can potentially endanger his wellbeing and those of all people on the road. A commercial driver operating commercial truck under the influence doesn’t have the ability to safely operate the vehicle, make proper quick decisions or take proper quick actions. Because of that, the drug and alcohol testing procedures make it clear if a commercial driver can be hired without a problem.

Commercial drivers should comply with all drug and alcohol testing requirements – both of the Department of Transportation and of all current or prospective employers.

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