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Managing Your Drug & Alcohol Testing Recordkeeping Requirements
Scott Mogensen
6 mins read

As a Department of Transportation-regulated motor carrier, you’re well aware that drivers are critical to your business. In fact, you simply wouldn’t be able to run a business without them.

More importantly, though, is having safe, sober, qualified drivers on your fleet—particularly amidst a historical (and growing) driver shortage.

Digital Recordkeeping Now Required! Get Offsite Audit Ready Now

To keep carriers compliant in this area, the DOT has in place stringent, specific drug and alcohol testing and recordkeeping requirements. And in ramping up its efforts to ensure the safety of America’s roadways, the agency also went live in 2020 with its long-anticipated Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

There’s no question that the cost of non-compliance can be steep—fines, violations, out of service orders, and overall serious hits to your business, bottom line, and reputation.

Here’s a primer to help keep you in the best possible position from a safety and compliance standpoint.

Drug & Alcohol Testing Requirements

Per federal law, all CDL drivers considered “safety-sensitive” 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.

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 for any of the above must then be reported to the Clearinghouse.

Comprehensive drug and alcohol testing programs and the Clearinghouse do have overlaps—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. Any drug and alcohol testing violations must then be reported; no excuses.

And remember: You as a motor carrier, as well as all of your drivers, must have an active account in the Clearinghouse.

Appointments Still Available: Get Your Demo of Foley's Digital Compliance & Recordkeeping Solution 

Recordkeeping: The Critical Second Step

But merely performing testing and 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 information about drivers must also be kept in secure, locked locations.

Furthermore, these records must now be maintained in electronic format so that they can be turned over to the FMCSA within 48 hours in the case of an audit.

The agency designates minimum amounts of time that files have to be maintained.

For the Clearinghouse, limited consent forms and results of pre-employment queries and annual queries must all be maintained for three years. Remember, also, that all drivers must sign consent forms before you can run any kind of query (as doing so without one could also result in a violation, fine, or lawsuit).

Several of the most significant drug and alcohol testing requirements, meanwhile, must be kept on file for 5 years from the document date. 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 reports
  • Semi-annual lab summaries

A few other retention requirements:

  • Previous pre-employment test documentation: 5 years if violations exist; 3 years if not
  • DOT drug and alcohol testing policy: Duration of time enforced, plus 5 years after it has been replaced or revised
  • Names selected for random testing: 2 years
  • Supervisor reasonable suspicion training: Duration of employment, plus 2 years

(This is by now way a comprehensive list, so consider partnering with a company like Foley to ensure full recordkeeping compliance.)

Why You Should Go Digital

Employing drivers who have tested positive for drug and alcohol can be incredibly costly—in fact, the FMCSA recently doubled fines for Clearinghouse violations to roughly $5,830 per infraction.

Also, Foley research has found that a high number of DOT violations result from improper recordkeeping.

After reading all of the above, and getting a firm understanding of what you must do as a motor carrier to remain compliant, you may be a little overwhelmed. That’s why Foley is here to help.

Our digital solution eliminates the many risks with paper files—which could be lost or incomplete, at greater risk for damage, and only accessible in one location—while helping you stay on top of document retention times and expiration dates. Our online platform offers limited access, so your files are always secure. But it is also easy to use and accessible from anywhere.

Just as importantly, it helps ensure that you are prepared for an offsite audit—which are up 400%. Because remember: Per new FMCSA requirements, all files must now be submitted in digital format.

Want to learn more about the benefits of going digital for all of your compliance programs? Contact Foley today!

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