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Driving Safe: CDL Driver Drug and Alcohol Testing

In the world of commercial driving, safety is paramount. Ensuring that CDL (Commercial Driver's License) drivers are fit for duty is not just a priority; it's a necessity. One crucial aspect of this safety protocol involves testing CDL drivers for drugs and alcohol. These tests play a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of our roadways and safeguarding lives.

NOTE: These regulations requiring drug and alcohol testing of CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) drivers are separate and apart from the physical qualification and examination regulations for such drivers. Medical Examiners are not responsible for compliance with these regulations. If a Medical Examiner determines that drug or alcohol testing should be conducted to make a fitness for duty recommendation, that testing is not being done to comply with these regulations.

49 CFR 382 Alcohol and Drug Rules

The purpose of these rules is to establish programs to help prevent crashes and injuries resulting from the misuse of alcohol or use of controlled substances by drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

Interstate CMV drivers are governed by 49 CFR Part 382: Controlled substances and alcohol use and testing.

Who must be tested?

All drivers, including part-time drivers, holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and operating CMVs (greater than 26,000 pounds combined gross vehicle weight rating, or transporting more than 16 passengers, or carrying placarded hazardous materials) on public roadways must be subject to testing according to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol regulations.

This includes any driver required to possess a CDL, including drivers employed by Federal, State, and local government agencies and owner-operators.

Equivalently licensed drivers from foreign countries are also subject to these rules.

NOTE: Drivers who only operate CMVs on private property not open to the public are not subject to testing.

When is Drug and/or Alcohol Testing Required?

Pre-employment: Drug testing is required. However, a driver may be exempted from testing if the driver was in a testing program within the last 30 days and tested within the last six months or in a testing program for the previous 12 months.

Pre-employment alcohol testing is not required; however, the employer may require alcohol testing before the driver can perform safety-sensitive functions. The employer may make job offers contingent upon passing an alcohol test.

Post-accident: Drug and/or alcohol testing is required for all fatal crashes, when the driver is cited for a moving traffic violation, and when crashes meet specific criteria related to the cost of vehicular damage or personal injury.

Random: Drug and/or alcohol testing is conducted on a random, unannounced basis just before, during, or just after performance of safety-sensitive functions.

Reasonable suspicion: Testing is conducted when a trained supervisor or company official observes behavior that is characteristic of drug and/or alcohol misuse.

Return-to-duty and follow-up: Testing is conducted when an individual who has violated the prohibited drug and/or alcohol conduct standards returns to performing safety-sensitive duties.

Employer Responsibilities

Employer responsibilities include:

Implementing and conducting drug and alcohol testing programs.

Providing a list of substance abuse professionals (SAPs) for drivers who violate drug and alcohol regulations.

Ensuring that the driver who is returning to a safety-sensitive position has complied with SAP recommendations.

Conducting follow-up testing to monitor that the driver is compliant with DOT alcohol conduct guidelines and abstaining from unauthorized drug use.

Employer responsibilities do not include: Providing SAP evaluations, or paying for driver SAP evaluation, education, or treatment.

For more information, see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website where Alcohol and Drug Rules are posted.

If you're a medical provider with a passion for promoting road safety and ensuring that commercial drivers are fit for duty, consider taking the next step in your career by becoming a certified Medical Examiner. Your expertise can make a significant impact on reducing accidents and ensuring the well-being of drivers and the public alike. Join the ranks of those dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of health and safety on our highways. Take the initiative today and become a certified Medical Examiner to contribute to a safer tomorrow for all.

Enroll in the NRCME Training Institute today or purchase our $99 NRCME Exam Reference Materials. Call us at (941) 600-8411 for more program information and for any current single provider enrollment discounts.

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10-Year Recertification Notice

Certified Medical Examiners on the National Registry are required to be recertified no sooner than 9 years and no later than 10 years from the date of issuance of their medical examiner certification credential. Recertification requires that providers complete an accredited training program such as ours and pass the in-person national NRCME certification examination.

Call (941) 600-8411 for a single-provider discount.