DOT-FMCSA Updates to Drug Screening

On June 5, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a Grant of Waiver regarding drug screening for truckers. This was done in response to furloughed truck drivers who found themselves out of work due to the coronavirus’s spread, which caused significant disruption to the industry and the employees it served.

As trucking employers begin to recall drivers who were laid off or otherwise not working for the company for more than 30 days, the cost and logistical barriers of testing many truck drivers in a short window of time are high FMCSA explained. This comes at a time when the trucking industry is facing economic challenges like never before.

This problem is further complicated by the reduced availability of controlled substances testing resources due to facility closures that continue to occur on account of the spread of COVID-19.

Granting an Extension

The FMCSA also noted that the waiver would extend from 30 days to 90 days, a period of time which drivers would qualify for the pre-employment testing exception currently held under 49 CFR 382.301(b). This would help employers out by allowing drivers to forego pre-employment testing who have participated in a controlled substance testing program that meets the requirements of 49 CFR within the previous 90 days of hire.

Allowing employers to push back pre-employment drug testing for drivers who were already tested within the previous 90 days will let employers see relief in the administrative burdens and costs related to administering tests. In turn, trucking companies can allow their drivers to get back on the road in a shorter time, thus promoting job growth and economic progress.

Moving Forward

The FMCSA’s waiver clarifies that it doesn’t change any of the remaining controlled substance and alcohol use testing requirements for a truck driver who performs safety-sensitive functions. Additionally, the motor carrier employers subject to the FMCSA waiver have instant and free access to driver-specific drug and alcohol violation information through the FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.

The waiver applies to both re-hires and new hires as long as they were in a program in the past 90 days. This is a reasonable response to the pandemic still making its way through the United States, affecting the commercial trucking industry, and the subsequent return to work process the country is experiencing.

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