You may have heard some talk about CDL drug tests on your journey to becoming a driver. Some of what you have heard may be true, but some of what you’ve heard may not. The Department of Transportation and FMCSA have strict drug policies that companies carry out for all of their employees. The biggest question that drivers have about drug tests is what happens if you fail? We’re going to answer this question and more so you can understand everything you need to know about CDL drug tests!
When Do CDL Drug Tests Occur?
There are a few different times that trucking companies drug test employees. The first test occurs before drivers are hired. These pre-employment drug tests always occur. Companies are legally required to drug test employees before allowing them to drive a commercial vehicle.
After being hired, you may have to perform a random drug test. The same law that requires companies to drug test before hiring drivers also requires them to conduct random drug tests of their driving employees. Even owner-operators can be randomly drug tested while driving for a company. Companies also require part-time drivers to take the same drug tests as full-time drivers.
If you are in an accident, you may be required to pass a drug test. This depends on the company and the circumstances of the accident. However, there are several trucking companies that drug test drivers after accidents no matter the circumstance. This is usually because of the company’s insurance policy.
Different Types of CDL Drug Tests
Most CDL drug tests are urine tests. These urine drug tests detect marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and PCP. The urine test is administered at a collection site. You provide a urine sample, sign paperwork, then the urine is sent to the lab. The lab tests for substances and their results are sent to a medical review officer. The MRO reviews the results and, if there are any positive results, inquires as to why. This inquiry includes looking at medical records, interviews with the employee, and even a possible medical examination.
The other type of test that the Department of Transportation requires is an alcohol test. You will be breathalyzed, and if you score a 0.04 or higher, you may be suspended. This is because the DOT does not want drivers who are under the influence of alcohol to operate “safety-sensitive” vehicles.
What Happens if You Fail a CDL Drug Test?
If you fail a drug test, it does not automatically mean that you will be fired. Instead, the MRO will give the results of the test to your employer. Your employer has the power to decide the consequences of failing a test. The only thing that the DOT requires is that drivers are not to operate vehicles after failing a drug test. This does not necessarily mean you will be fired, but rather you will not be driving. You may also be in danger of losing your license. This is not always the case and will depend on the individual driver and company.
Your CDL drug test results are confidential. However, your test results will follow you to new employers. Employers are required to disclose your drug test results to any future employer that you may have. This is to ensure that the proper drug tests are administered to you later on. If you have a drug or alcohol abuse problem the DOT and FMSCA may encourage you to seek help. It is not safe to operate a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You are putting your own life in danger as well as the lives of others on the road.
CDL drug tests are very serious and commonplace in the trucking industry. Now you know how, why, and when they are administered and what to do if you fail. There is nothing to worry about! Once you find the perfect trucking job for you, the company will go over their specific drug and alcohol policy in detail and you can get to trucking!