The end is near: Complete your random testing by December 31st

By: Daren Hansen

Publication: Transportation Regulatory Alert

Date Posted: 11/01/2019

Random Drug & Alcohol Testing Approaching Deadline

Among the top 20 critical violations found during DOT audits each year is a failure to conduct enough random drug or alcohol tests.

As the end of the year approaches — and holidays and vacations impact drivers’ schedules — be sure to meet the minimum random testing requirements of §382.305.

The rule requires that motor carriers randomly test at least 10 percent of “the average number of driver positions” for alcohol and 25 percent for drugs, annually.

Procrastinators beware

Carriers that wait too long to schedule their final random tests of the year run into problems when faced with increased holiday business, vacations, company shutdowns, and other unforeseen events. Selected drivers might be unavailable for testing before time runs out.

The following are answers to some common questions involving random testing requirements as we close out 2019.

Do we need all test results by December 31?

Having the test results in hand by December 31 is recommended, although simply completing all tests by that date is allowed, even if the results are not received until sometime in the new year, according to the FMCSA.

What if we completed all our tests but still don’t have enough?

If a motor carrier performed all its scheduled random tests but comes up short on its annual numbers, it can perform a supplemental draw of names to reach the 10- and 25-percent rates. The selection must be random and the tests must be performed by the end of the year.

What if a driver is on vacation when his/her name is drawn for a random drug test?

You have two choices when a selected driver is on vacation and you’re approaching the end of the year:

  1. If you have a policy to test drivers who are off duty (and have communicated that policy to all drivers), you can notify the driver of the test, but you have to make sure the driver proceeds immediately to the collection site. This means the driver must “drop everything and go.” Because it can be hard to tell if a vacationing driver is available for testing, it can be very hard to meet that standard.
  2. You can (randomly) select an alternate name. This is only allowed when the primary driver is not available for testing “because of long-term absence due to layoff, illness, injury, vacation, or other circumstances.” Be sure to document why the driver could not be tested.

Note that another option — at other times of the year — is to hold the driver’s name until the next selection period, when the driver is back to work. That likely won’t be an option if you’re trying to meet your end-of-year minimums.

How do you calculate the annual “average number of driver positions”?

The answer depends on whether you have fluctuations in the number of driver positions you have.

  • If there’s no fluctuation over the course of the year, you simply multiply the number of CDL driver positions you have by 10 percent and 25 percent. If you have 25 driver positions, for example, you must test 3 drivers for alcohol and 7 drivers for drugs (always round up).
  • If you have fluctuations, you’ll need to estimate the number needed each time you make a selection of names during the year (monthly, quarterly, biannually, etc.). Then, as the year goes by, you’ll need to average out the number of positions you had in each selection period and adjust the number of names you draw accordingly.

Keep in mind: the annual testing rates are based on driver positions, not the number of drivers you employed or used during the year.

Key to remember: As the end of the year approaches, make sure you’ve conducted enough random drug and alcohol tests to meet minimum FMCSA requirements.

About the author
Daren Hansen - Transportation Safety Editor

Based on his expertise in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Daren is responsible for writing and editing content for safety-related products, publications, and services for the trucking industry,

Expert Help Icon

Have a compliance question for Daren? The J. J. Keller Expert Help tool provides you direct access to Daren and other trusted experts to help answer your toughest compliance questions.

You may also enjoy the following articles:

Coming soon: New Clearinghouse and driver training rules

CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse portal accounts

Your driver wants what? Reasonable accommodations in trucking

View all transportation-related articles...