14 Jul FMCSA Notice: Flexible Drug and Alcohol Testing Rates During COVID-19 Pandemic
On July 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice to assure motor carriers that they will be able to test drivers at a lower rate if they can prove that a deviation from current random testing rates was necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The notice is significant because the FMCSA doubled the testing rate for controlled substances in 2020 to 50 percent. The FMCSA is issuing this notice because the agency is aware that the pandemic has created, and may continue to create, major disruptions in the motor carrier industry.
While COVID-19 disruptions persist, employers may select drivers at a rate of less than 50 percent of their average number of driver positions for controlled substances, and 10 percent for random alcohol testing during the 2020 calendar year. In addition, enforcement flexibility will also be given to the requirement of spreading random testing throughout 2020.
However, the FMCSA notice also warns that employers must comply with current random testing rate requirements if they are able to do so.
To qualify for this flexible approach to testing rate requirements, carriers will need to document:
- The specific reasons for noncompliance; and
- Any actions the employer took to identify alternative testing sites or resources.
Employers that fail to document their inability to comply with testing rate obligations due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be subject to the full enforcement of this requirement.
Carriers will be able to test drivers at a lower rate if they can prove that a deviation from current random testing rates was necessary.
Random Testing Rates
The FMCSA requires employers to test a percentage of their driver positions each year at random.
The number of tests an employer conducts depends on the testing rate and the average number of driver positions for the employer.
- Drug Testing: 50 percent
- Alcohol Testing: 10 percent
This Legal Update is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. ©2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.