Random Drug and Alcohol Testing

Random Drug and Alcohol Testing in Maryland

DOT Exam Reisterstown MD Random Drug Testing

The FMCSA – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – mandates drug and alcohol testing for drivers holding CDL (commercial driving license). These drivers include individuals that drive commercial vehicles in Halethorpe MD and Reiserstown MD such as trucks and buses.

The DOT – Department of Transportation – enforces the testing standards for transportation employees that fall in the safety-sensitive category.

Drug & Alcohol Testing Program – History

A need to transform the transportation industry into a drug- and alcohol-free entity motivated the United States Congress to pass an act in 1991. Referred to as the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, this standard mandated DOT to conduct alcohol and drug testing for transportation employees that presented high safety risk.

The regulation, since called the Part 40 (elaborately 49 CFR Part 40), communicates guidance on the appropriate way to conduct testing. The regulation also elaborates on guiding regulation-violating drivers to become alcohol and drug-free again.

Candidates Falling Under the Purview of Drug & Alcohol Testing

CDL drivers operating CMVs (commercial motor vehicles) that necessitate adhering to CDL requirements, need to take a DOT test for alcohol and drugs. If you commercially operate large and heavy vehicles, or vehicles that mandate a Hazmat placard, then you need a CDL license. You will also have to undergo DOT alcohol and drug testing.

This testing is essential because these drivers are performing safety-sensitive functions. Candidates include individuals working as full-time, part-time, backup, intermittent, or international drivers.

Substances Tested

Drivers undertaking the test are tested for different drugs. The candidate undergoes a lab test to identify the presence of any of the following:

  • Cocaine
  • Opiates – derivatives of opium and codeine
  • Marijuana
  • Phencyclidine – PCP
  • Amphetamines as well as methamphetamines

Alcohol tests identify concentrations equalling or exceeding 0.02.

Employers in the transportation industry such as motor carrier operators, are permitted by DOT to conduct internal testing for alcohol and drugs, for their employees.

But such testing must be “in addition to” the DOT-mandated testing. Such employer testing must also be “distinct from” the DOT testing. This means employers can test candidates for drugs different from those tested under the DOT testing program. Such non-DOT employer tests can also include non-urine tests.

Random Testing as Part of DOT Testing Program

Drug and alcohol tests are conducted at various times by the DOT. These include:

  • Prior to employment – A CDL driver must undergo a drug test and receive a negative report for an employer to hire him/ her.
  • Post accidents – A driver may have to undergo a drug and alcohol test after an accident. The necessity of a test is decided according to the specifications under §382.303 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Reasonable suspicion – Any driver suspected of functioning under the influence of alcohol or drugs, can be subject to immediate testing.
  • Tests upon return to duty after a violation – Drivers with a positive test report, or those that refuse to take a test, are required to take the test. These tests are performed when such drivers return to duty. Such candidates are required to undergo a mandated return-to-duty process under a professional authorized by DOT.
  • Follow-up tests – This test is mandated for candidates that have returned to duty after a violation or test refusal, mentioned above. The follow-up tests are performed under the supervision of a DOT-authorized substance abuse expert.

Random testing

CDL drivers must undergo random tests all through the year, as mandated by section §382.305 of Title 49. The following candidates are required to undergo random testing:

  • An employer that:
  • Serves as his/ her sole employee;
  • Is not associated with any motor carrier in the form of a lease partnership;

Such employer is required to conduct a random testing program. The employer shall select 2 or more covered employees from a selection pool. The pool is created based on the instructions under section §382.305.

Random Testing Process

A scientific approach is employed to test drivers for random tests.

Some valid methods include:

  • Use of a random number table.
  • Use of a random number generator, usually a computer-based process.

Drivers are selected for tests based on the match of the generated numbers with parameters such as payroll identifiers, Social Security Numbers or other identifiers.

Random testing is subjected to the following stipulations:

  • Using random selection methods such as rolling a dice, making a ping pong ball selection, picking cards, throwing darts, or making a number selection from a hat, are unacceptable.
  • Every driver selected for random testing must stand an equal chance for testing whenever testing selections are made.
  • Every driver that is selected must undergo testing during the same selection period.
  • Employers can opt to work with a service agent. For example, a C/ TPA (Consortium/ Third- Party Administrator), can be used to make random employee selections.

When choosing a C/ TPA, it is important to verify whether or not the agent adheres to the FMCSA-specified selection percentage. It is also important to verify if only covered employees are included in the pool for random testing selection.

The existing percentage is 50% for random testing for controlled substances. The percentage is taken over the average count of driver positions. This percentage is a minimum annual rate.

The rate for random testing for alcohol stands at 10% currently. This percentage rate, too, is over the count of driver positions in average.

  • It is the duty of the employer to ensure that a driver under their supervision gets the testing done immediately upon notification.
  • The employer must ensure that the driver attends a random alcohol test only under these conditions:
  • Immediately before he/ she begins to perform safety-sensitive functions (or)
  • Immediately after ceasing to perform such functions

Why Random Testing is Effective?

The surprise element in random testing is what makes the testing so effective. Employees are aware of the fact that they will be tested. But they are unaware of the timing of such tests. For the best outcomes, random testing must be performed quarterly, at the least.

Performing more often than on a quarterly basis is an excellent safety strategy. Ensure that the testing periods are spread uniformly over a period of a year.

Random testing when performed regularly, can:

  • Keep employees away from drugs and alcohol. The concern over the tests at the workplace will prevent them from using illegal substances
  • Provide a fair and effective method of testing
  • Help employers identify employees with substance issues. They can be sent for proper treatment, which can be life-saving
  • Put employees in a healthy path, saving numerous lives and preventing injuries in the process

Employee Absence during Random Testing

If an employee is unable to attend a random testing program due to a genuine reason such as a chronic illness, then employers can report the reason. Employers can adhere to the required testing percentage by making a new selection. Alternatively, they can counter the decrease in rate by adding an extra during the next selection cycle.

If an employee working in shifts absents himself/ herself due to a day-off, then the employee can be tested at the next shift. The selection pool remains the same in such cases.


Random drug and alcohol testing is a great way to discourage use the of such substances at the workplace. Employers can enhance the efficacy of random testing by devising additional internal testing programs in compliance with their industry standards. Testing dates must be as unpredictable as possible for the best results.


Driving tests
Drugs Alcohol DNA