FMCSA Increases Random Controlled Substances Testing Rate to 50 Percent Beginning January 1, 2020

On December 27, 2019, the FMCSA announced an increase in the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL). FMCSA increased from the previous testing rate of 25 percent to 50 percent of the average number of driver positions. This testing rate became effective January 1, 2020 and will apply to the 2020 calendar year.  According to Transportation Law Firm of Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, the change is a result of data collected by the FMCSA on 2018 random testing showing an increase in the percentage of positive controlled substances random tests among CDL drivers. The random alcohol testing rate will remain unchanged at 10 percent.

A report by HDT states FMCSA estimates there are 3.2 million CDL holders operating in interstate commerce and 1 million CDL holders operating in intrastate commerce. That means that the minimum number of random drug tests performed will increase from 1.05 million at the previous 25% rate to approximately 2.1 million in calendar year 2020. The agency estimates it will cost the trucking industry an estimated $50 million to $70 million to conduct the additional tests. 

Calling the move “a financial hit to the industry that no one was expecting,” Dave Osiecki, president and CEO of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, told HDT that although this drug testing data was collected in the first quarter of 2019, “until now, there has been no indication from FMCSA about the increase in positive tests that has led to random testing rate change.”

He noted that this random testing rate increase is likely to have a small productivity impact as well, because the process of taking the driver off the road and directing him/her to a testing site takes up time that would otherwise be productive working time.  More importantly, Osiecki added, “it’s disappointing to learn that more drivers are testing positive for drugs,” Osiecki added. “This is a clear safety concern. Perhaps this is a result of greater marijuana use due to changing state laws?”

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(CDL) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse – Effective 1/6/2020

  • Fleets operating CDL equipment are required to query the database for all new CDL driver hires (full query) and yearly for existing drivers (limited query);
  • In order to access the database, CDL Drivers, Employers, C/TPAS, SAPS & MROS must be registered.
    • (1/8/2020) Notice: If you are an employer currently experiencing technical difficulties accessing the Clearinghouse and are unable to conduct required pre-employment queries, you may hire a driver using solely the procedures set forth in 49 CFR 391.23(e). Once FMCSA has determined and announced that users are able to access the Clearinghouse, pre-employment queries must also be conducted as required by section 382.701(a).
  • Employers & C/TPAS
    • Required to report D&A violations including positive tests and test refusals.
    • According to an October 2019 blog by National Transportation Consultants, “since the Clearinghouse will not have data prior to the start up date, motor carriers will also have to directly query prior employers regarding drug and alcohol testing violations. After three years these direct queries can stop. One component of the plan has been delayed for three years. State Driver Licensing Agencies will not be required to query the Clearinghouse prior to issuing, renewing, upgrading, or transferring a CDL until January 6, 2023.
  •   Motor carrier must have a USDOT number and must have, or request an FMCSA Portal Account;
    • Click on “Go to”
    • Enter your account information, or “Create an account”
    • Note; Email address on file cannot be modified
    • 2-factor authentication (i.e. sends security code to the email address entered)
    • O/O must designate a C/TPA (Consortium/Third Party Administrator)

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