FMCSA’s random drug testing rate to double in 2020

December 26, 2019

Mark Schremmer


Twice as many truck drivers will be required to take a random drug test in 2020 than in 2019.

In a notice of program change that is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Dec. 27, the FMCSA announced that it is increasing the annual minimum percentage rate for random controlled substances testing for truck drivers from 25% to 50% of the average number of driver positions. The rate increase becomes effective Jan. 1, 2020. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10%.

What’s the reason for the increase?

A provision in the 2001 final rule titled “Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing” requires the FMCSA administrator to increase the minimum annual random testing percentage rate when the data received under the reporting requirements for any calendar year indicate that the reported positive rate is equal to or greater than 1%.

Based on the results of the 2018 FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey, the positive rate for controlled substances random testing increased to 1.0%, up from 0.8% in 2017. In 2016, the testing rate was reduced from 50% to 25% percent, because the number of positive tests fell below 1%.

FMCSA estimates there are 3.2 million CDL holders operating in interstate commerce and 1 million CDL holders operating in intrastate commerce. Based off these numbers, the 25% rate would have required at least 1.05 million random drug tests to be conducted. Now at 50%, about 2.1 million random controlled substance tests will need to be conducted during the 2020 calendar year.

The agency said the increase in the number of random tests will cost an additional $50-$70 million in 2020.

Process stays the same

Rachel Aycock, of OOIDA’s CMCI Drug Consortium, said the drug testing process for drivers will not change but that they will be more likely to be selected.

“There might be quite a few more being selected for the randoms,” Aycock told Land Line Now. “The designated employee representatives will be receiving selection letters, but the process remains the same. Once you have been selected for a random, a driver must go immediately to the facility and have the testing completed. So in actuality, it’s just a lot of change internally, not so much externally for the drivers.”

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