FMCSA provides additional guidance for drug and alcohol testing

March 25, 2020

Mark Schremmer


FMCSA has released additional guidance regarding drug and alcohol testing amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The agency’s notice, which was posted on March 24, provides some additional information and clarification to the Department of Transportation’s guidance that was released on March 23.

“To help ensure the safety and well-being of everyone, while also ensuring that we continue to meet our mission, we are providing the following guidance in effect until May 30, unless the national emergency is extended beyond that date,” FMCSA wrote.

“FMCSA is aware that, as described by DOT’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance guidance, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency are interfering with, and in some cases, may be preventing employer and driver compliance with current drug and alcohol testing requirements.”

Random drug testing

Regarding requirements involving random testing, FMCSA said the tests should be able to be made up at the end of the year if disruptions involving the COVID-19 national emergency have made it impossible to meet the required rates for drug and alcohol testing.

“You should document in writing the specific reasons why you were unable to conduct tests on drivers randomly selected and any actions taken to locate an alternative collection site or other testing resources,” FMCSA wrote.

Pre-employment testing

A prospective employee still needs to receive a “negative” pre-employment test result before he or she can perform DOT safety sensitive functions.

Post-accident testing

Drivers are required to be tested for alcohol and controlled substances as soon as “practicable” following a crash. However if this cannot be done within eight hours for an alcohol test and within 32 hours for a drug test because of the national emergency, FMCSA says the specific reasons the test couldn’t be conducted must be documented.

Reasonable suspicion testing

FMCSA said if the test can’t be conducted because of the pandemic, the specific reasons must be documented.

“Include any efforts you made to mitigate the effect of the disruption, such as trying to locate an alternative collection site,” FMCSA wrote.

Return-to-duty testing

A driver is not allowed to perform any safety-sensitive functions until a return-to-duty test is conducted and there is a “negative” result.

Follow-up testing

Similar to other FMCSA guidance, any reasons follow-up testing can’t be conducted must be documented, the agency says.

Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance guidance

FMCSA also highlighted the following guidance from Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance.

If you are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms, you should contact your medical provider and, if necessary, let your employer know about your ability to perform work.

If you have COVID-19-related concerns about testing, you should discuss them with your employer. FMCSA said it joins ODAPC in suggesting that employers respond to employee concerns in a sensitive and respectful way.

As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of what may be considered an employee’s refusal to test and determine whether or not the employee’s actions should be considered a refusal according to the current regulations.

OOIDA’s request

As part of a letter sent last week to President Donald Trump, as well as to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FMCSA, OOIDA requested that random drug and alcohol testing of drivers be suspended for at least 90 days or until truckers have the means to fully comply.


Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.