FMCSA Increases Random Testing for Controlled Substances for Truck Drivers

March 6, 2020

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that is has doubled its minimum rate for random controlled substances testing to 50 percent of the average number of commercial motor vehicle drivers, effective January 1. This comes after the results of the 2018 FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey, in which the positive rate for controlled substances random testing increased to one percent. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will stay at 10.

The increase will result in an estimated $50 million to $70 million increase in costs to the industry by requiring more drivers to be tested for controlled substances, according to a notice published in the Federal Register. Each calendar year, the FMCSA requires motor carriers selected for the survey to submit their drug and alcohol testing program results. The 2018 survey was sent to over 4,000 randomly selected motor carriers. The FMCSA used data from 1,552 carriers for random controlled substance testing.

Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing Rule

The Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing rule established the process by which the FMCSA determines whether the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing should be increased or decreased. This would be based upon the reported positive random test rate for the entire motor carrier industry as reported by motor carrier employers to the FMCSA. If the reported positive rate for any calendar year falls below one percent, FMCSA administrators may reduce the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances to 25 percent.

Reason for New Testing Requirements

In 2016, the FMCSA lowered the minimum rate for random drug testing to 25 percent after positive random tests fell below one percent from 2011 to 2013 for three consecutive years. However, the new 50 percent requirement was put into effect for 2020 after the estimated rate for positive random drug tests reached one percent in 2018. The FMCSA has the authority to reduce the minimum annual random testing percentage rate based on the reported positive random test rate for the entire motor carrier industry. The FMCSA administrator may put into effect the 50 percent testing requirement if the positive rate equals or surpasses the one percent threshold.

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