FMCSA Covid19 Testing Guidance

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FMCSA COVID-19 Drug & Alcohol Testing Guidance

During these challenging times, we wanted to provide our clients and industry partners with a summary of FMCSA drug and alcohol testing guidance.

Stopping the spread is important to help ensure the safety and well-being of everyone, while also ensuring that we continue to safeguard public safety is why DOT and FMCSA have provided the following guidance which will be in effect until June 30, 2020.

The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance (ODAPC) has provided guidance for DOT regulated employers, employees and service agents.  Furthermore, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations provide reasonable flexibility to motor carrier employers and their drivers subject to testing under 49 CFR part 382 to address the COVID-19 national emergency. Click here to view ODAPC’s guidance document.

Along with the ODAPC guidance, FMCSA has provided further clarification as it relates to FMCSA’s testing requirements.

FMCSA Recommended actions for FMCSA regulated employers unable to conduct:

Random Testing – You are required by 49 CFR 382.305(k) to ensure that the dates for administering random alcohol and controlled substances tests are spread reasonably throughout the calendar year. DOT guidance further recommends that you perform random selections and tests at least quarterly. For more information visit fmcsa.dot.gov

If, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency, you are unable to perform random selections and tests sufficient to meet the random testing rate for a given testing period in order to achieve the required 50% rate for drug testing, and 10% for alcohol testing, you should make up the tests by the end of the year.  You should document in writing the specific reasons why you were unable to conduct tests on drivers randomly selected, and any actions taken to locate an alternative collection site or other testing resources.

Pre-Employment Testing– If you are unable to conduct a pre-employment controlled substances test, in accordance with 49 CFR 382.301(a), you cannot allow a prospective employee to perform DOT safety-sensitive functions until you receive a negative pre-employment test result unless the exception in 49 CFR 382.301(b) applies.

Post-Accident Testing – You are required to test each driver for alcohol and controlled substances as soon as practicable following an accident as required by 49 CFR 382.303. However, if you are unable to administer an alcohol test within 8 hours following the accident, or a controlled substance test within 32 hours following the accident, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency, you must document in writing the specific reasons why the test could not be conducted, as currently required. See 49 CFR 382.303(d) and FMCSA Guidance at: fmcsa.dot.gov

Reasonable suspicion testing – You should document in writing the specific reasons why the test could not be conducted as required; include any efforts you made to mitigate the effect of the disruption, such as trying to locate an alternative collection site. This documentation should be provided in addition to the documentation of the observations leading to a test, as required by 49 CFR 382.307(f). Follow current regulations addressing situations in which reasonable suspicion testing is not conducted, set forth in 49 CFR 382.307(e)(1), (2).

Return-to-duty (RTD) testing – In accordance with 49 CFR 40.305(a), you must not allow the driver to perform any safety-sensitive functions, as defined in 49 CFR 382.107 until the RTD test is conducted and there is a negative result.

Follow-up testing -  If testing cannot be completed, you should document in writing the specific reasons why the testing could not be conducted as in accordance with the follow-up testing plan; you should include any efforts you made to mitigate the effect of the disruption, such as trying to locate an alternative collection site. You should conduct the test as soon as practicable.

**As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of what may be considered an employee’s refusal to test and determine whether or not the employee’s actions should be considered a refusal as per 49 CFR § 40.355(i). 

[1] This guidance document does not have the force and effect of law and is not meant to bind the public in any way.  This guidance is intended only to provide clarity regarding existing requirements under the law.


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