Since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched its Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse in January 2020, carriers became required to query the clearinghouse before hiring a driver.
Consequently, implementing drug and alcohol testing programs has become increasingly important for carriers. A recent article published by Freight Waves including information contributed by Kathy Close, editor of transport safety for compliance at the legal firm J.J. Keller & Associates discussed the recommended steps for employers to take in order to review and optimize their FMCSA drug and alcohol testing programs for 2023.
According to FMCSA data, drug violations for truck drivers increased by 10.2% in 2021 over 2020, and alcohol violations increased by 26.7% in 2020 compared to 2021.
Moreover, in 2021, the top 30 FMCSA violations included a number of drug- and alcohol-related issues, such as failing to request a pre-employment query of the clearinghouse, failing to request an annual query of the clearinghouse, and failing to register with the clearinghouse, which are classified as violations 382.701(a), 382.701(b)(1), and 382.711(b), respectively.
Managing drug and alcohol programs and compliance can be a complex process. Typically, carriers use in-house management, outsourced management, or hybrid management approaches to achieve this.
In addition, Close recommends for carriers to take the following steps in preparing their FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program for 2023:
· Reviewing the performance of the designated employer representative (DER)
· Ensuring that the program is administered by the appropriate department with the appropriate person in charge.
· Ensuring the supervisor of reasonable suspicion testing receives relevant training outlined in Part 382.603.
· Meeting annual testing rates – for 2022, the FMCSA random testing rate was 50% for drugs and 10% for alcohol.
· Effectively managing service agent relationships, including clinics, labs, MROs, SAPs or C/TPAs
· Regular review of DOT drug and alcohol testing programs
According to Close, regulatory changes need to be communicated within the organization and to service agents. Specifically, effective Jan. 6, 2023, the safety performance history records request will no longer ask former DOT-regulated employers for DOT testing history. These questions should be removed from the form, and the clearinghouse query is the sole means of learning about FMCSA violations under Part 382.
If your DER needs some help, we are with the education they need! DATAC offers the DER course which goes over all of their responsibilities, and the Supervisor Awareness Training course (SAT) goes over Reasonable Suspicion testing and how to make sure the procedures are done correctly to be legally defensible. If you have any questions, give us a call, we are here to help make sure you have all the information you need to run a legally defensible, and fair, drug and alcohol testing program.