Understanding Your Pre-Employment Drug Testing Requirements
FEBRUARY 14, 2017 – Most FMCSA-regulated business owners understand that drivers “have to take a drug test.” And although pre-employment drug testing is a relatively uncomplicated procedure, there are specific requirements that must be met.
What is a Pre-Employment (PE) Drug Test?
This is the initial urine drug screen that should be given after you have decided to hire an applicant or re-hire a driver who previously worked for you.
Who is Required to Complete a PE Drug Test?
As a motor carrier, you are required to take a pre-employment drug test if you:
- Operate a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or Gross Combination Weight Rating of at least 26,001 pounds
- Operate a vehicle that can transport at least 16 passengers including the driver
- Transport hazardous materials that require placarding
Newly hired drivers and returning drivers who have been excluded from a random drug & alcohol program for 30 days or longer must complete a pre-employment drug test before operating a commercial motor vehicle. Please note this includes owner-operators and employees of family-run operations.
When Does a PE Drug Test Have to be Completed?
The PE must be completed before a driver begins operating a commercial motor vehicle. Now this doesn’t mean a driver can go to a collection site, take the test and then hop in a truck and start driving. Before they are legally able to drive, the entire testing process must be completed. In other words, the urine specimen must be sent to the laboratory and a verified negative result must be received first.
After the PE is completed, the driver must then be added to a random drug & alcohol testing pool within 30 days.
Can a PE That was Taken with a Different Company be Used?
Although there are circumstances in which previous PEs can be used, there are complex stipulations and requirements that must be met in order to do so. We always recommend completing a new PE any time a driver is hired or rehired.
Where Does One go to Take a PE Drug Test?
Most DOT-qualified collection sites are walk-in medical centers. For example, Foley offers a network of collection sites that are located all across the country to companies enrolled in our drug & alcohol program.
What Happens if a PE Drug Test Comes Back Positive?
If a test comes back positive, the driver may not begin operating for any company until the entire return-to-duty process is complete. Keep in mind that the FMCSA’s new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is going to make it almost impossible for drivers to apply at various companies without disclosing a past positive test.
What are the Consequences of Not Completing a PE?
If, for whatever reason, a PE test is overlooked, it must be completed as soon as soon as possible (better late than never). That being said, an incomplete PE can cause serious problems when a FMCSA audit occurs. In the case of a New Entrant Safety Audit, an incomplete PE will cause an automatic failure. If it’s discovered during a Compliance Review, considerable fines will be issued.
The importance of Pre-Employment Drug Testing cannot be overstated. If you have questions or concerns, leave them in the comments section below or call (800) 253-5506 for assistance.
This blog is the first in a Q&A series that will examine each specific DOT test type. Stay tuned for our next post, which will uncover the specifics of Random DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing.