Drug Testing of Truck Drivers

Because of the dangers of driving large vehicles in impaired states, laws have been created to prevent drugged driving. There are a variety of federal and state regulations that truck drivers must follow, including drug testing.


In 1991, Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employer Testing Act. This law requires that all transportation agencies conduct drug and alcohol testing of employees who may pose a risk to safety. The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act provides specific guidelines regarding the manner in which such testing should be conducted and how employees can return from work after being subject to a Department of Transportation drug or alcohol regulation. These rules specify who is to be tested, and when it should take place.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for setting drug and alcohol testing regulations that apply to truck drivers, bus drivers, and all other commercial drivers who need a commercial driver’s license. These rules specify who should be tested and when. These rules include information on how to protect employees’ privacy from sensitive information regarding alcohol or drug testing.

Who is Tested?

The drug and alcohol testing rules apply to most commercial drivers with commercial licenses who drive on public roads or perform safety-sensitive functions. It doesn’t matter if the driver is full-time, part-time, international, or seasonal.

What are the Tests?

Employers can test for drugs in accordance with Department of Transportation regulations. Before a driver is allowed to drive a commercial motor car, employers must obtain a negative result from a drug test. After a crash, a drug or alcohol test might be necessary. The severity of the crash, the injuries or deaths and the citation received by the truck driver will determine whether a drug or alcohol test is necessary.

The Department of Transportation requires that commercial truck drivers be randomly tested throughout the entire year. Random selection must be based on scientifically sound reasoning. Employees must not be informed in advance about the test. Employers can also test employees if they suspect that an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Supervisors must be trained by employers to recognize signs of impairment in drivers.

Drivers who have been tested positive for drugs and alcohol, refused to take tests, or otherwise violated Department of Transportation drug or alcohol regulations must be given a negative result before they can return to work. To continue working, he or she must have at least six negative tests in a 12-month time period.

What Drugs Are Tested?

Laboratory testing is performed on these drivers to determine if they are carrying marijuana, methamphetamines or cocaine. A blood alcohol level of 0.02 or more is detected by alcohol tests.

What is a positive result?

Truck drivers who test positive for any of these drugs or who refuse to drink alcohol containing 0.04 percent or more are considered positive. Refusing to test is often equivalent to a positive result.

What happens if a positive test result is received?

If a person has received a positive test or refuses to take the test, he or she must be removed immediately from operating a motor vehicle commercially and any other safety-sensitive functions. He or she then has to complete a return-to-duty process under the supervision of a Department of Transportation-qualified substance abuse professional. These drivers must have a negative result from a substance abuse professional. He or she must also receive at least six negative test results that are directly observed by a substance abuse professional within 12 months. However, this requirement may be extended to four years.

Private Drug Testing Requirements

The Department of Transportation requires that you pass the above-mentioned tests. Employers can also require additional testing for their drivers. These tests may be used to test for drugs other than those based on urine. An employer might provide a brochure or handbook that outlines these requirements and the penalties for violating an employer program.

Legal assistance

A truck driver may cause injury to a person if he/she suspects that he/she was impaired. Contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney may be able take immediate measures to gather evidence and determine if the truck driver or trucking company was compliant with state and federal laws.

Updated 01/18/22