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Q&A: DOT Random Drug & Alcohol Testing
Scott Mogensen
5 mins read

MARCH 10, 2017 – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires Random Drug & Alcohol Testing for anybody who operates vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or Combination Weight Rating of at least 26,001 pounds; who operates vehicles that can transport at least 16 passengers including the driver; or who transports hazardous materials that require placarding. This includes owner-operators and family-run operations.

Who is Subject to Random Testing?

Random testing for DOT regulations is based on an individual’s job function, not their job title. Only individuals who perform safety-sensitive functions – such as the driving of commercial motor vehicles – may be included in a DOT random testing pool.

What is a Third Party Administrator (TPA)?

A TPA is a company such as Foley that runs drug & alcohol testing programs for DOT- regulated businesses.

What is a Random  Consortium Testing Pool?

A random consortium testing pool is a group of individuals from various companies who perform similar safety-sensitive job functions (such as CDL drivers) who are included in one large drug and alcohol testing pool. Consortiums primarily contain owner-operators and small businesses. Larger companies generally have their own testing pools which include their employees only.

What are my Random Testing Requirements?

Each DOT agency has its own requirements regarding random testing procedures, such as the timeframe an individual must be entered into a random testing pool after completing a Pre-Employment Drug Test.

In addition, each agency has its own requirements regarding the number of drug and alcohol tests that are to be completed within testing pools during the calendar year.

DOT Agency Must be Added to a Random Pool Annual Drug & Alcohol
Testing Percentage
FMCSA Within 30 days of receiving a negative PE 25% drug/10% alcohol
FAA Within 180 days of receiving a negative PE 25% drug/10% alcohol
FTA Within 90 days of receiving a negative PE 25% drug/10% alcohol
PHMSA No time limit after completion of PE 25% drug/NO alcohol
FRA No time limit after completion of PE 25% drug/10% alcohol
USCG No time limit after completion of PE 25% drug/NO alcohol

When and How are Random Selections Made?

The DOT mandates that random test selections are to be made by a “scientifically valid method” such as a computer-based random generator. When the pools are managed correctly, each individual in the pool has the same probability of receiving a selection during each random run – with no predictability. That means one person might receive multiple back-to-back selections while another does not receive any.

How is an Individual Notified of a Random Selection?

TPAs such as Foley notify a company’s Designated Employer Representative (DER) that an individual has received a random test selection.

The DER is the company representative who receives the notification and determines when the selected employee will complete testing.  A DER may be an administrative assistant, a human resources employee, or for smaller companies, a co-worker or family member.

Upon receipt of a notification, the DER must determine a date and time the employee will complete the test, and ensure that testing is completed within the required time frame. (i.e.: by the end of the month for monthly selections and by the end of the quarter for quarterly selections.)

It is crucial that the DER give the employee no prior notification. Once the employee is notified, he or she must go to a collection site immediately to complete testing.

What Happens if a Random Selection is Not Completed Within the Required Timeframe?

The DOT requires that all random selections be completed within the selection period, unless there is an extenuating circumstance that prevents the employee from being able to test. For example:  the employee is on lay-off or out of the country and will not return in time to complete the test. In the case of a DOT audit, if there is no valid reason that a selection was not completed, the DOT may issue penalties including fines for the violation.

This blog is the second in a Q&A series that will examine each specific DOT test type. The first in the series was about pre-employment drug testing.  Stay tuned for our next blog, which will uncover the specifics of Reasonable Suspicion DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing.

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