A recent article in Fleet Owner examined a new method of testing truckers for drugs that the American Trucking Associations (ATA) wants to use. According to the article, the ATA recently contacted the Department of Transportation (DOT) and urged the agency to take further action to stop impaired driving by truckers. The ATA is now urging the DOT to allow motor carriers to use hair testing instead of urine testing for DOT-required drug testing. Even though urine testing is the currently mandated process for DOT-required testing of truckers, the ATA revealed that it knows for a fact that thousand of truckers who have failed hair tests for drugs have been able to pass DOT-authorized urine tests and have obtained driving positions based on passing these tests. The ATA stated that it wants the trucking industry to use the best tools available under the DOT-mandated drug and alcohol testing program to make sure the roads are kept safe from impaired commercial drivers.
The article notes that hair testing only detects the presence of various drugs in a person’s system and does not detect the presence of alcohol. The article also notes that the Truckload Carriers Association supports the pursuit of changes to DOT regulations that would allow for testing of alternate specimens, such as hair, to be used to comply with federal drug testing requirements. The trucking industry has always promoted itself as being a “zero-tolerance” industry and truckers are prohibited from drinking while working. All truckers are prohibited from driving if they are found to have a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 % or greater as indicated by an alcohol breath test. A driver will be removed from safety-sensitive duty if they have a positive drug or alcohol test result.
The article comes amid recent publicity surrounding the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and its recent issuing of specific recommendations to reduce alcohol-impaired driving in the United States. The NTSB recommended that states lower the current blood alcohol concentration limit (BAC) of 0.08% to 0.05%, expand the use of ignition interlock devices, and make use of DWI courts to try to stop DWI recidivism. The NTSB also recommends that states conduct high-visibility enforcement of DWI laws and incorporate passive alcohol-sensing technology into DWI enforcement efforts.
Alcohol and Drug Testing by Motor Carriers
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, truckers are required to undergo testing for drugs and alcohol. All truckers who operate commercial vehicles are required to undergo a pre-employment drug test before they are allowed to drive for a motor carrier. The pre-employment test is only required for controlled substances, however, alcohol testing is also allowed. If a motor carrier has a reasonable suspicion to believe that a trucker is driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the carrier is required to give the trucker a test. Under FMCSA regulations, random drug and alcohol testing is also required. These tests are done based on a random selection of drivers. In the case of random alcohol testing, this can only be done prior to drivers performing safety-sensitive functions, while a driver is performing a safety-sensitive function, or just after a driver performs a safety-sensitive function.
Random drug testing of truckers can be performed at any time the driver is notified. If a trucker is involved in a fatal accident, they must undergo drug and alcohol testing. If a trucker is involved in a crash that requires that a vehicle be towed from the scene or involves injuries that require medical attention away from the scene of the accident they must undergo drug and alcohol testing. Alcohol tests required as a result of these types of accidents must be given within 8 hours of the crash and drugs tests must be given within 32 hours of the crash. If a trucker fails a drug or alcohol test, they are not allowed to perform DOT safety-sensitive duties for a motor carrier until they complete a Substance Abuse Professional evaluation, referral, and education/treatment process under FMCSA regulations.
The attorneys at the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are experienced in handling DWI cases. If you need a DWI lawyer who can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your DWI case, call the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys.
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