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The BASICS of DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Recordkeeping
Mariah Barr
8 mins read
The BASICS of DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Recordkeeping

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to determine a motor carrier’s safety performance and compliance in comparison with other carriers. Five BASICs are available to the public online in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) – one of them being the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC. This BASIC refers to regulation 49 CFR Parts 382 and 392.

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Employing safe drivers is only the start to performing well under this BASIC. Recordkeeping also plays a major role in preparing for investigations related to it. Let’s start with an overview of the BASIC before we get into the recordkeeping requirements. 

What is the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC? 

This BASIC helps ensure compliance with DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations, including the Clearinghouse. Carriers that perform well under this BASIC do not have any violations involving their drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) while impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, or the misuse of medications.  

Don’t Stress About DOT-Compliant Drug Testing 

On the other hand, those who rank poorly in this BASIC will have one or more drug or alcohol violations recorded in the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) database. If a driver fails a random drug test, is given an alcohol test and has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .02 or higher, or is found operating under the influence of illegal drugs, for example, this will result in a violation.

How can employers improve safety performance in the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC?

First and foremost, employers should have a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing program in place with the following components: 

  • Pre-employment drug testing 
  • Random drug testing program 
  • Post-accident testing 
  • Reasonable suspicion testing 
  • Return-to-duty/Follow-up testing 

In addition to implementing drug and alcohol testing procedures, employers must also report all drug and alcohol testing violations to the DOT Clearinghouse.  

Companies should also educate their drivers on how to comply with these requirements and how they impact their percentile rank in the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC. Employers should communicate that avoiding drugs and alcohol while driving helps avoid violations and fines and keeps the roadways safer for drivers everywhere. 


Get Your Free DOT Recordkeeping Checklist

What are the recordkeeping requirements under this FMCSA BASIC? 

FMCSA-regulated employers must maintain records documenting their drug and alcohol testing program consistent with 49 CFR part 382.401.  

In general, employers are required to keep the following documents:  

  • Drug and alcohol test results  
  • Testing process administration  
  • Return-to-duty process administration  
  • Employee training  
  • Supervisor training  

All DOT drug and alcohol testing records must be kept in a secure location with controlled access. Paper files should be locked in filing cabinets, and electronic records should be password protected. All records must be legible so signatures can be authenticated. 

How long do employers need to keep these DOT records?  

Each type of document has a different retention requirement. 

You must keep the following records for five years: 

  • Previous pre-employment testing (with violations) 
  • Positive alcohol test results indicating an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater 
  • Verified positive drug test results 
  • Refusals to take required alcohol and/or drug tests (including substituted or adulterated drug test results) 
  • SAP reports  
  • All follow-up tests and schedules for follow-up tests 
  • Testing service provider contracts 
  • MIS/calendar year summaries 
  • Semi-annual lab summaries 

You must keep the following records for three years:  

  • Previous pre-employment testing (no violations) 
  • DOT Clearinghouse limited consent forms 
  • DOT Clearinghouse pre-employment queries 
  • DOT Clearinghouse annual queries 

If you have questions regarding recordkeeping, data management, or consent needed with the Clearinghouse, we’ve covered these topics in detail. Consider reading through these related blog articles: 

The Basics of DOT Clearinghouse Recordkeeping & Data Management  

DOT Clearinghouse Consents: What You Need to Know  

You must keep the following records for two years: 

  • Driver roster for random testing pull 
  • Names selected for random tests 
  • Tracking drivers who were tested 

You must keep records of negative and canceled drug and alcohol test results with a concentration of less than 0.02 for one year. 

There are also duration-related retention times for various records. Here are the documents you must keep and the corresponding length of time you need to retain them: 

  • DOT drug and alcohol policy: duration of time enforced, plus five years after it has been replaced or revised 
  • Signed receipt for policy and educational materials: duration of employment, plus two years 
  • Supervisor reasonable suspicion training: duration of employment, plus two years 
  • In-house urine specimen collector or breath alcohol technician training: duration of employment, plus two years. 

Can a third-party administrator (like Foley) keep these records for companies? 

Yes, but there’s a catch: employers must be able to produce the records in the time required by the DOT agency performing an investigation. When an FMCSA inspector requests records, they may be required within two business days or 48 hours after the initial request (in the case of an offsite audit).  

How can carriers keep track of these DOT recordkeeping requirements? 

We can answer this in one word: automation. Foley's DOT compliance software automatically manages your drug and alcohol testing programs to keep you on track with DOT compliance regulations. If a driver is selected for a random drug test or pre-employment drug test results are ready, you’ll be the first to know. It will also ensure all records are secure and readily available no matter when or where you need to access them.  

Foley Goes Beyond the BASICS of Drug & Alcohol Testing Compliance 

Whether you’ve just discovered your company isn’t performing the best under the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC or you’re trying to navigate the recordkeeping process, Foley can provide the drug and alcohol testing and DOT Clearinghouse guidance you need to stay compliant.  

Get a free demo of Dash, the Foley platform, today, and let us help you operate a safer fleet and keep your drug and alcohol testing documents organized. 

If you would like more information on this BASIC and the Foley programs that can contribute to your performance and recordkeeping success within it, check out our free webinar: The BASICS of Drug and Alcohol Testing Compliance. 

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