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How to Manage Your Drug & Alcohol Testing Recordkeeping Requirements
Mariah Barr
7 mins read

Foley can answer all your DOT drug testing questions, such as: how long do DOT drug test results take?

As a DOT-regulated motor carrier, you know how critical your drivers are to your business. You simply wouldn’t be able to run a business without them.

More importantly, though, is having safe, sober, qualified drivers on your fleet, especially during a historical driver shortage.

To help ensure carriers maintain compliant fleets, the DOT has strict, specific drug and alcohol testing and recordkeeping requirements. A huge part of ramping up these efforts was the introduction of the DOT Clearinghouse in January 2020 (which is changing in 2023, by the way!).


You know that falling out of compliance with the DOT can mean violation citations, steep fines, and out-of-service orders – all of which can take a major hit to your company’s bottom line and hard-earned reputation.

But you may not know everything you need to do to reach and maintain compliance with DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

Luckily, Foley does. Here’s a walkthrough of...

  • Who needs to be tested
  • What your drug and alcohol testing program needs to include
  • DOT Clearinghouse query and reporting requirements
  • Recordkeeping and retention requirements

Who needs to participate in a drug and alcohol testing program?

According to federal law, all CDL drivers considered “safety-sensitive” employees must participate in a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing program. This includes drivers who:

  • Operate vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds
  • Transport hazardous materials
  • Transport vehicles with at least 16 passengers

To ensure that you and your drivers maintain full compliance, all drivers listed above must participate in both a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing program and the DOT Clearinghouse that went into effect in January 2020.

What does a DOT drug and alcohol testing program involve?

Comprehensive drug and alcohol testing programs must include:

  • Pre-employment testing
  • Post-accident testing
  • Random testing
  • Reasonable suspicion testing
  • Return-to-duty/follow-up testing

Violations of any of the above, such as positive DOT drug test results or test refusals, must then be reported to the DOT Clearinghouse. 

What do I need to do in the DOT Clearinghouse?

Comprehensive drug and alcohol testing programs and the Clearinghouse do overlap, but the Clearinghouse specifically requires pre-employment queries for all new drivers and limited annual queries for all drivers for the duration of their employment.

Need a refresher on pre-employment or annual queries? Take a look at these related Foley articles:

Have You Run Your Pre-Employment Queries?

Compliance Reminder: Your Annual Clearinghouse Queries are Due

And remember: You as a motor carrier, as well as all your drivers, must have an active account in the Clearinghouse. If you haven’t registered for the Clearinghouse yet, Foley’s compliance experts can help you before you face your next compliance audit.

What recordkeeping requirements do I need to comply with?

A drug and alcohol testing program and regular reporting to the Clearinghouse aren’t enough to keep you compliant.

As required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all DOT-regulated motor carriers must keep diligent records of their safety and compliance programs. Some of these files that contain sensitive driver information must be kept in a secure location.

Foley highly recommends maintaining all driver records in a digital format, in the event you’re called on for an offsite audit with an electronic record submission as your only option.

The FMCSA has designated minimum amounts of time that files must be maintained as well.

For the Clearinghouse, limited consent forms and results of pre-employment queries and annual queries must all be maintained for three years.

Several of the most significant drug and alcohol testing records must be kept on file for five years from the original document dates. These include:

  • Chain of Custody (CCF)/Medical Review Officer (MRO) results from positive tests
  • Refusal to test records
  • CCF/MRO results from return-to-duty and follow-up tests (both positive and negative)
  • Substance abuse professional (SAP) reports
  • Semi-annual lab summaries

A few other drug and alcohol testing-related retention requirements:

  • Previous pre-employment test documentation: Five years if violations exist, three years if not
  • DOT drug and alcohol testing policy: Duration of time enforced, plus five years after it has been replaced or revised
  • Names selected for random testing: Two years
  • Supervisor reasonable suspicion training: Duration of employment, plus two years

Keep in mind, this list is short and sweet for a quick review before 2022 comes to a close. Partnering with a compliance provider like Foley will help you meet every single recordkeeping requirement (and trust us, there are a lot of them). 

Digital DOT Drug Test & Alcohol Testing Compliance is Easier

Allowing safety-sensitive employees who have tested positive for drug and alcohol to continue operating CMVs can be incredibly costly—in fact, in a 2021 final ruling, the FMCSA doubled fines for Clearinghouse violations to roughly $5,830 per infraction. 

After reading all the above requirements, learning the potential consequences, and getting a better understanding of what you must do as a motor carrier to remain compliant, you may feel overwhelmed. That’s why Foley is here to help.

Foley’s DOT compliance software solution eliminates the many risks with paper records – which could be lost or incomplete; easily damaged; and inconveniently accessible in only one location, like a filing cabinet in an office – and helps you stay on top of document retention times and expiration dates.

Our cloud-based platform offers limited profile access, so your files are always secure. But it’s also easy to use and accessible from any mobile device.

Bottom line – the Foley platform helps ensure your company is prepared for an offsite audit – which are up 400% since 2019.

Get audit-ready (and stay that way) with the best DOT compliance provider out there. Foley’s compliance specialists are ready to walk you through the platform with a free demo, so schedule yours today by filling out the form!

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