Part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations relating to its drug testing program and guidelines involves not only testing at certain parts of your employment as a truck driver, but also spells out just how you are to be tested. Currently, regulations hold that samples can be taken either via a urine test or “oral fluid” test. Most of the time though, the facility will likely ask you for a urine sample. So, it’s important to understand how the procedure works and what you need to do to stay compliant.
At Fleet Drug Testing, we have all the testing solutions you need to stay compliant with DOT regulations. Our programs cover all the particulars, from finding convenient locations for you to making sure results are reported and records kept in a proper way. Contact us today to get started.
Why Does the FMCSA Use Urine Samples For its Drug Testing Program?
As you might expect, the FMCSA has a number of resources and the power of the federal government at its disposal when implementing its drug testing program. However, at its heart, the FMCSA’s drug testing program is not unlike similar programs in that it utilizes the taking of urine samples for testing. While there are other methods–specifically saliva–that can be used, the vast majority of drug testing programs use urine samples for the following reasons:
- History – Urine drug testing has been in use for a long time and is a well-established method for detecting drug use. It has a long history of use in various industries, including transportation.
- Non-invasive – Collecting urine samples is a relatively non-invasive process compared to other methods like blood testing. It doesn’t require a trained medical professional to collect the sample, making it practical for use in a wide range of settings.
- Wide range of detection – Urine testing can detect a wide range of drugs and their metabolites, making it comprehensive in terms of the substances it can identify.
- Reliability – Urine drug tests are generally considered to be reliable and accurate when conducted following established protocols. This reliability is essential for ensuring the safety of the transportation industry.
- Cost-effective – Urine drug testing is cost-effective compared to other methods, making it a practical choice for large-scale testing programs, such as those conducted by the FMCSA.
- Deterrence – The knowledge that random drug tests can be conducted using urine samples acts as a deterrent for individuals who might consider using drugs while performing safety-sensitive functions in the transportation industry.
While urine testing is the preferred method for FMCSA drug tests for the above reasons, it’s still helpful to understand the guidelines under which you will be tested if you’re in the transportation industry.
FMCSA Urine Testing Guidelines
Again, as a commercial vehicle driver or other “safety-sensitive” employee, you must be drug tested at certain intervals under FMCSA guidelines. Aside from drivers, this applies to the following positions:
- Dispatch personnel
- Maintenance or inspection crews
- Loading or unloading cargo
- Repairing or assisting with the repair of disabled vehicles
Specifically, the FMCSA’s drug testing guidelines include the following steps and components:
- Pre-employment testing – Before hiring a driver or employee, employers are required to conduct a urine drug test. This test should be negative for controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and phencyclidine (PCP).
- Random testing – FMCSA mandates random drug testing for drivers and employees. Employers are required to use a scientifically valid method to select drivers for testing throughout the year. The testing rate for controlled substances is at least 50% of the average number of driver positions.
- Post-accident testing – After certain types of accidents, including those involving fatalities or serious injuries, drivers are subject to immediate post-accident testing. This helps determine if drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident.
- Reasonable suspicion testing – If a supervisor or employer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver is using drugs or alcohol, they can request a drug and alcohol test. This suspicion should be based on specific observations, behavior, or information.
- Return-to-duty testing – Drivers who have tested positive for drugs or alcohol or refused testing must complete a substance abuse program and pass a return-to-duty test before they can operate a commercial vehicle again.
- Follow-up testing – After returning to duty, drivers are subject to unannounced follow-up testing. These tests are typically conducted over a period of one to five years and are meant to monitor their continued sobriety.
- Laboratory analysis – When a urine sample is collected from a driver, it is sent to a certified laboratory for analysis. The laboratory conducts tests to detect the presence of controlled substances according to the FMCSA drug panel.
- Tampering and substitution – FMCSA guidelines prohibit drivers from attempting to tamper with or pollute their urine samples. These actions can result in serious consequences.
- Medical Review Officer (MRO) – The results of drug tests are reviewed by a qualified medical professional known as a Medical Review Officer. They determine whether a positive result is legitimate or if there are any legitimate medical explanations.
While the testing is a crucial part of the overall program, another key element is the reporting of results. This is important not only for the driver or employee, but for the company and even the public.
Reporting Results and Potential Consequences For Drivers
As a driver, it’s important not only to report for drug testing when you’re called, but another element of the program is the reporting of results (while maintaining confidentiality). As it stands, when the particular urine sample is tested and reviewed by the MRO, the results are then provided to the driver, employer, and FMCSA. Specifically, the reporting process includes:
- Reporting to FMCSA – Once the results are confirmed and reviewed by the MRO, they are reported to the FMCSA. This reporting is typically done electronically and includes information about whether the test result was negative or positive.
- Consequences of positive results – If a driver’s drug test result is positive, the FMCSA may take enforcement action, which can include suspension of the driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) and disqualification from operating a vehicle.
Obviously, compliance with these regulations as a driver rests on your ability to actually report for testing while free of any of the substances tested for. In terms of providing a sample, it’s also important to:
- Stay hydrated, but not over-hydrated so as not to provide a diluted sample
- Follow testing instructions
- Inform the MRO or collector of any prescription medications and provide proof
Drug Testing Solutions From Fleet Drug Testing
Taking the guesswork and burden of compliance with the FMCSA’s drug testing program can be very beneficial to your business as either a driver or fleet manager. At Fleet Drug Testing, we take pride in offering full-service programs that maintain compliance with these regulations, allowing you to focus on your business. Explore our programs today to see what fits your needs. Contact us today to get started.