Post-Accident Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements Under the FMCSA

If you are one of the many thousands of supervisors or managers responsible for the millions of DOT-covered employees (drivers) that are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Rules, you need to know when and how to test your drivers for substance use following an accident.

Who is subject to Federal post-accident drug and alcohol testing?
The FMCSA Rules regarding this are found in 49 CFR Part 382.  According to the Federal Regulations, a “covered employee” is a person who drives a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 26,001 pounds; or the vehicle is designed to transport 16 or more occupants (including the driver); or is a vehicle of any size and is used for transporting hazardous materials that requires the vehicle to be placarded.  One common example is an over-the-road semi-truck driver.

When must drivers submit to a drug test or alcohol test after an accident?
After a “qualifying accident”, the Rules require post-accident drug and alcohol testing.  Not every accident involving a driver with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) dictates the need for a Federal post- accident test.  Rather, only those accidents strictly meeting the definition of Qualifying Accident under the Part 382 Rules should necessitate that Federal post accident drug and alcohol tests are conducted.

A Qualifying Accident under the Federal Regulations consists of the following:

  1. A fatality as a result of the accident, or
  2. A vehicle involved in the accident was damaged to the point where it is unable to be driven away from the scene (i.e. It was towed away); AND your driver/employee is cited (given a ticket/citation), or
  3. Someone involved in the accident, including your driver, is treated medically away from the scene (i.e. A person is taken to a hospital for injuries and medical treatment); AND your driver/employee is cited (given a ticket/citation).

If your covered employee is involved in an accident that does not meet one of the above criteria, you should NOT have them tested under Federal authority.

May we test employees/drivers for less serious accidents that do NOT meet the FMCSA’s definition of Qualifying Accident?
Yes, in most cases — as long as you have a company policy that allows for post-accident or post-incident testing and you are not violating any other laws, you are typically allowed to require your employees to submit to drug tests and alcohol testing after an accident or incident.  Ensure that you have a solid policy – and that the policy is communicated properly to all employees well in advance of requiring any type of drug or alcohol testing.   It is important to let your collection/testing site know that any test conducted under company authority must be recorded on non-Federal (non-DOT) forms.

What types of tests are allowed in post-accident situations?
Under the DOT and FMCSA Rules, only urine may be used for drug testing at this time.  This goes for post-accident testing as well as all other types of Federal tests (pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty, and follow-up).

Is instant drug testing allowed?  No.  As stated above, the Transportation Regulations do not allow for any other bodily fluid or tissue to be used (i.e. Not allowed: hair sample, sweat, saliva, blood, etc.).  Although the Regulating Agencies are looking at allowing alternative specimen collections in the future, as of the writing of this newsletter, only urine specimens are allowed for DOT & FMCSA drug testing.

Specimen collectors for DOT drug testing are required to have specific training in the Rules/Procedures and hands-on proficiency training before becoming qualified as a professional DOT specimen collector.  You may read more about Specimen Collector training here: https://certifiedtrainingsolutions.com/dot-specimen-collector-training.html

For post-accident alcohol testing, the only two approved methods are saliva and breath samples.  Saliva samples may be used for the screening (initial) test only; and an evidential breath testing device (EBT) must be used for the confirmation test.  (The Confirmation Test is the final result.]  Technicians conducting Federal alcohol tests are required to have very specific and thorough training on both the Regulations & procedures, as well as hands-on training on the specific testing device that they utilize.

You may find more information on breath alcohol technician (BAT) training and costs here: https://certifiedtrainingsolutions.com/breath-alcohol-technician-bat-training.html
How do I know if I am doing this right?
Supervisors, managers, and designated employer representatives (DERs) often ask how they know whether they are compliant with the FMCSA and DOT Rules regarding post-accident drug and alcohol testing.  If you are a drug and alcohol program manager for your company or have the responsibility for making determinations in post-accident testing situations, we have created a new online training course just for you. 

The fully online training course details the FMCSA Post-accident Testing criteria, and answers the most commonly asked questions regarding the “when” and “how” of post-accident testing in the transportation industry under the Federal Rules (Part 382).  As a bonus, the self-paced training course includes a detailed look at ALL required testing reasons under the Federal Regulations, to ensure that you fully understand your duties when it comes to drug testing and alcohol testing for covered employees. 

You may read details and purchase the course here:  https://certifiedtrainingsolutions.com/fmcsa-post-accident-testing-training.html

And we are happy to provide several free resources and links on the course webpage. 
Certified Training Solutions offers convenient, online courses to help you meet the various DOT Operating Agency requirements for supervisor training.  Our online training is self-paced, and learners may start the course at any time, 24 hours a day (instant access is granted once payment is made)!   Upon completion of any of our online training courses, you are immediately presented with your Certificate to print (no waiting!). 

Do you need Reasonable Suspicion training for your supervisors?   Click here for more details on our Reasonable Suspicion (Signs and Symptoms) Training Course for DOT-covered Supervisors, or call us at 307-640-5859.
Other suggested reading for all DOT-covered employers is the publication:  “What Employers Need To Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing [Guidance and Best Practices]”

The information presented here is meant to provide general information and guidance. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.  Legal advice must be provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship specifically with reference to all the facts of the particular situation under consideration. Such is not the case here, and accordingly, the information presented here must not be relied on as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel.  When in doubt, check with your corporate legal counsel and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel or an agent of the operating agency that covers your industry.  Certified Training Solutions is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage relating to the use of the information in this article. Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.

Copyright Certified Training Solutions August 2018