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What to Do When a Driver Needs a Post-Accident DOT Drug Screen & Alcohol Test
Mariah Barr
10 mins read
What to Do When a Driver Needs a Post-Accident DOT Drug Screen & Alcohol Test

Foley’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program can help you during this confusing time.

The 2024 travel season is well underway. More vehicles will be on the road heading toward fun destinations, and, unfortunately, this means the chances of accidents (including those involving drivers under the influence) are higher.

When one of your drivers is involved in an accident, especially a serious one, your head will already be spinning with a million questions and concerns. 

You’ll be wondering if anyone was hurt, where the accident occurred, what the damage is, and if your driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol — especially if the evidence is pointing in that unfortunate direction. 

Before you perform panic-induced drug and alcohol testing on your driver, you’ll need to ensure it can be justified in the eyes of the law. 

Need a DOT-compliant drug & alcohol policy?  Click here

There are only three legal reasons for needing post-accident testing:

  1. When it results in a human fatality, whether or not a citation is issued to the driver.
  2. When an accident results in bodily injury to a party with immediate medical treatment away from the scene AND if a citation is issued to the driver.
  3. When a vehicle involved in the accident sustains disabling damage requiring towing AND a citation is issued to the driver.

We’ve covered these (along with the potential consequences if any of the above did not occur in the accident) in this article: Post-Accident Testing & The Clearinghouse: The Implications of an Unauthorized Test

Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions on post-accident drug and alcohol testing, like

  • How long does my driver have to take a drug or alcohol test after the accident?
  • What kind of post-accident drug or alcohol tests are allowed?
  • Where can I send my driver for post-accident tests?
  • What happens if my driver fails or refuses the test?

And remember, once you’re 100% certain DOT post-accident testing is necessary, you’ll need to act quickly.

Time Frames for Post-Accident Drug & Alcohol Testing

According to federal regulations, a driver involved in a serious accident that meets the above criteria must do the following:

  • Take a DOT alcohol test within eight hours of the accident
  • Take a DOT drug screen within 32 hours of the accident

Depending on the circumstances, a driver may not be able to leave the scene of the accident and take the alcohol test within such a short period of time. If this is the case, you’ll need to document why the test was not completed every two hours that the driver could not get to the testing site, until the eight-hour time limit is reached. The need for a DOT alcohol test is then invalidated at this point.

The process is the same for the drug test. If the driver cannot leave the scene and the DOT drug screen is not completed within 32 hours, you must document the reasons why the test could not be done. The need for a DOT drug screen is also invalidated after the 32 hours have passed.

It’s important to note that even if a law enforcement officer administers a breath alcohol test or other DUI evaluation at the scene, they cannot take the place of a DOT-mandated test. The results may not be available in accordance with HIPAA laws, and specific DOT drug and alcohol testing procedures highlighted below must still be followed in addition to these tests.

Acceptable DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Types

As of today, just like during a DOT physical, a urine test is the only method of post-accident drug and alcohol testing acceptable for federally regulated businesses; however, that could change soon. The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced proposed oral fluid testing guidelines in February. If this proposed rulemaking is approved, saliva testing would be another option for companies to choose for their post-accident needs.

Is saliva testing better than urine testing for drivers? There are numerous benefits to oral fluid testing. It can be done directly at the scene of an accident, removing the issue of beating the clock to get a urine sample in time. It can also be observed without privacy intrusions, nearly eliminating the chances of “cheating” or replacing a urine sample with a “clean” sample that did not come from the driver in question.

For now, sending your driver to a certified collection lab for a urine test is the only way to legally obtain post-accident results.

Where to Go for a Post-Accident DOT Drug Screen & Alcohol Test

You’ll need to send your driver to a DOT-qualified collection site for a post-accident test. If you’re not sure where to find one, Foley can help. We offer 24/7 emergency assistance for customers who find themselves in post-accident situations, and we can connect you with one of our thousands of trusted labs anywhere in the country.

You can also take advantage of Foley’s online collection site locator at all hours of the day or night to find the most convenient spot for your driver.

What to Do If Your Driver Fails or Refuses the Tests

Since your number one priority as a motor carrier is to operate a safe fleet, you may never have had a driver who failed a post-accident DOT drug screen or alcohol test. But if you ever do, you need to take specific actions after the fact.

In the eyes of the DOT, a driver refusing to take a test is equal to a positive test result. If an employee produces a positive drug test result, registers a 0.02% or greater blood alcohol content (BAC), or refuses to test after an accident, the driver must:

  • Be removed from all safety-sensitive job functions immediately
  • Be evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
  • Complete all counseling or substance abuse treatment recommended by the SAP before returning to work
  • Take a return-to-duty DOT drug screen and provide a negative result before resuming safety-sensitive duties

The DOT employer handbook also explains what constitutes a test refusal, who can determine it as such, and how to handle different types of refusals. You can find guidance on this starting on page 25.

Put Post-Accident DOT Drug Screening & Alcohol Testing Practices in Place with Foley

Make sure your workplace drug and alcohol policies include post-accident testing procedures and encourage your employees to openly discuss any questions or concerns they may have regarding them.

Foley’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program has everything you need to be compliant, including a written post-accident DOT drug screen policy, 24/7 online support, the most up-to-date electronic Custody and Control Forms (eCCFs), and more.

Get to know the Foley Platform, Dash, by calling our experienced DOT compliance specialists or signing up for a free software demo. We offer programs that make drug and alcohol testing, the DOT Clearinghouse, and other compliance matters easier for your team.

Once you experience the Foley difference, you’ll see why so many DOT-regulated businesses like yours have depended on us for their drug and alcohol testing needs, especially after a serious accident. Take it from them, you don’t have to face this daunting process alone.

Check out this TrustPilot review on Foley’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program!

I have used Foley Services exclusively for 16 years for driver qualifications and drug testing. They have been responsive, professional, courteous and knowledgeable. Any issue/question that arises, they are able to answer/resolve quickly and without fuss. Highly recommended

John, Happy Foley Customer

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