FMCSA temporarily waives certain pre-employment testing requirements

June 8, 2020

Mark Schremmer


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted a three-month waiver from certain pre-employment testing requirements for recently furloughed drivers.

The waiver became effective June 5 and ends Sept. 30.

Current regulations require that a driver must undergo pre-employment testing for controlled substances, and the employer must receive a verified negative controlled substances test result for that driver before he or she can perform safety-sensitive functions. Within that regulation, there is an exception for drivers who have participated in a controlled substances testing program within the previous 30 days and was either tested for controlled substances within the past six months or participated in the random controlled substances testing program for the previous 12 months. The waiver extends the exception period from 30 days to 90 days.

“As employers begin to recall drivers who were furloughed, laid off, or otherwise not working for the company for more than 30 days, the cost and logistical barriers of testing a large influx of drivers in a short timeframe are significant, at a time when the commercial trucking and motor coach industry is facing unprecedented economic challenges,” FMCSA wrote in the waiver. “This problem is further compounded by the reduced availability of controlled substance testing resources due to continued facility closures or other testing impediments caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

The waiver extends from 30 days to 90 days the period, which drivers would qualify for the pre-employment testing exception.

“This relief would allow employers to forego pre-employment testing for drivers who have participated in a controlled substances testing program that meets the requirements … within the previous 90 days of hire or rehire,” FMCSA wrote. “Allowing employers to forego pre-employment testing for drivers who were in a testing program within the previous 90 days will provide relief from the administrative burdens and costs associated with administering tests and allow them to return drivers to the workforce in a more efficient manner, thus promoting job creation and economic growth.”

FMCSA said it reserves the right to revoke the waiver because of drivers’ involvement in accidents or employers’ failure to comply with the terms.

Previous Land Line coverage of FMCSA drug testing regulations:


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.