Drug and Alcohol Testing of Truck Drivers Can Save Lives

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

January 28, 2023

Types of Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements for Truck Drivers

Thousands of drivers are placed behind the wheel of huge trucks every day by the transportation sector. While the majority of these truck drivers are professionals who adhere to strict safety guidelines, the truth remains that drug and alcohol abuse causes a significant number of truck accidents each year.

In a collision, large trucks do greater damage than smaller passenger cars. As a result, drug and alcohol abuse among truck drivers is a particularly serious safety risk.

You need professional legal counsel after a truck accident to guarantee that you are adequately paid for your injuries. Warrior Truck Accident Lawyers has the knowledge to handle your personal injury claim swiftly, professionally, and fairly.

 Our Denver, Colorado accident attorneys have decades of expertise defending the rights of accident victims. During this tough time of recovery, their committed and skilled assistance will preserve your legal rights.

Under FMCSA guidelines, truck drivers are obliged to undergo drug and alcohol tests at several points throughout their employment, including:


Before a transportation business will allow a new truck driver to drive, he must pass a drug test. Only if all workers with CDLs are obliged to take the test may a trucker be tested for alcohol. He must pass a pre-screening test before driving again if he is removed from the random testing pool for more than 30 days for any reason.


After every accident that results in a fatality, a citation in an injury collision, or the disablement of a car, a truck driver must submit to alcohol and drug testing. The alcohol test must be completed within eight hours after the accident, and the drug test must be completed within 32 hours.

Testing is done at random

Truckers are subject to random drug testing and may be required to take a test even while they are off-duty and at home. An employer, on the other hand, may only order a random alcohol test of a trucker before or after a shift, or during a shift.

When a driver receives a request for testing, he or she must report promptly. Any delay may be seen as a refuse, and a positive test result is the outcome of that rejection.

Suspicion is reasonable

If a trucker shows evidence of usage, a DOT-trained supervisor might make him or her submit to alcohol or drug testing. The supervisor must base his or her observations on the trucker’s appearance, body odor, words, or actions.


Return-to-duty tests need direct observation and may be used to substitute a pre-employment drug or alcohol test for truckers who have failed or refused to take one.


In addition to the random testing, a substance abuse specialist may order a truck driver to undertake follow-up drug or alcohol testing. During the first 12 months, this would entail a minimum of six unannounced drug tests that are personally seen.

Drug testing is required under DOT rules for the following restricted substances:

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are two types of amphetamines.



OxyContin, opium, and codeine derivatives are examples of opiates.

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a kind of phencyclidine.

A driver must be immediately removed from driving a commercial car on public highways if he or she tests positive for drugs, has an alcohol content of.04 or higher, or refuses to take a drug test.

What Is the Testing Methodology?

A truck driver must follow strict guidelines when it comes to drug and alcohol testing. The following are a few of them:

A trucker must report promptly after getting a notice to report for drug or alcohol testing.

For drug testing, only a urine test is permitted.

If there are any concerns with the testing, a trucker may be compelled to retest under direct observation.

A trucker may only submit a urine sample for three hours.

It might be deemed a refusal to take the test if the trucker departs the testing facility before the procedure is completed.

What Role Do Substance Abuse Tests Play in Your Compensation Case?

If you were hurt in a truck accident, you should get a copy of the truck driver’s drug and alcohol test results. Even if you don’t suspect anything at the time, the findings may show that the operator was driving while intoxicated, or that he had a drug or alcohol issue that made him unable to drive under federal standards.

You may also be able to file a separate claim against the fleet business for permitting the driver to continue working or for breaching federal drug and alcohol testing rules.

Crash Statistics for Large Trucks and Buses

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a truck accident statistics report every year. The most current Heavy Car and Bus Crash Facts report (for 2015 data) reveals some alarming trends in large truck accidents in the United States.

Between 2014 and 2015, the raw number of drunken truck drivers engaged in fatal accidents rose, despite a slight drop in the overall proportion of intoxicated truck drivers involved in fatal accidents.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of fatal accidents involving heavy cars or buses climbed by 5%.

Between 2005 and 2009, the number of injury crashes involving large trucks (or buses) decreased steadily. Between 2009 and 2015, there was a sixty-two percent rise in injury accidents.

Between 2005 and 2015, school buses accounted for forty-one percent of all buses involved in fatal collisions.

Between 2014 and 2015, the number of miles driven by heavy cars climbed somewhat. (Increases in miles travelled have been consistently connected with increases in traffic accidents.)

Drug and Alcohol Testing Procedures Currently in Use

Employees who drive commercial trucks and buses that require a commercial driver’s license must submit to drug and alcohol testing, according to federal regulations. These rules are established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In general, all commercial drivers’ license holders who operate commercial vehicles on public roadways in the United States are performing “safety-sensitive duties,” and are therefore subject to drug and alcohol testing by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Full-time, part-time, intermittent, backup, and overseas drivers are all included.

  • Laboratory testing for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines, and PCP is required by DOT recommendations. Drug threshold concentrations are also established by the recommendations. Blood alcohol concentrations of.02 and above are detected by DOT alcohol testing.

Drug testing is required under DOT recommendations before to employment, after major accidents, at random throughout the year, and when there is a reasonable suspicion of impairment. Drivers who fail a test are subjected to drug testing upon returning to work, as well as follow–up testing for a period of at least twelve months (up to a maximum of five years).

Alternatives to Improving Drug Testing Regulations

Transportation businesses will be better equipped to detect problem drivers if drug testing regulations and the reporting system are improved. A better system will also raise truck drivers’ personal responsibility to practice safe driving behaviors. A partnership of transportation operators has offered one option.

Some of the industry’s biggest and most powerful corporations have banded together to ask the US Department of Transportation to let them utilize hair follicle testing instead of the urine testing mandated by federal laws.

Because drugs linger in the hair follicle longer than in urine, hair follicle testing is often considered to be a more accurate technique of identifying past drug usage. To comply with DOT rules, these carriers utilize hair follicle testing as part of their employee drug testing programs, but must produce duplicate urine samples.

The proposed modification to enable hair follicle testing will save money on duplicate tests while also providing a more accurate report on the truck driver’s previous drug usage.

Another option is to create a centralized database that keeps track of all commercial driver’s license holders’ information. This would warn businesses about prospective or present workers’ driving offences and felonies (such as DUI).

 It would also instill a feeling of personal responsibility in all truck drivers, who would be aware that their driving and criminal histories were readily available to any industry employer.

Employer Drug and Alcohol Testing Protocols for Employees Driving Commercial vehicles

In addition to the federal requirements, companies may also create their own drug and alcohol testing programs. For a variety of reasons, transportation businesses that hire commercial drivers are advised to do so. For starters, employers of inebriated truck drivers may be held legally accountable for the damages produced by that driver in an accident. Employers are more likely to be held liable if their drivers are inebriated.

Second, drug and alcohol testing may be an effective risk management method for obtaining cheaper insurance costs for the company. It also lowers the chances of property damage and other unneeded costs for the company. Finally, stopping drunk driving saves lives.

The cost of property destruction is clearly quantifiable, but the cost of human life is not. It is the responsibility of all drivers – and the firms that employ them – to reduce the cost of human life on the roads by keeping them as safe as possible. Unfortunately, federal regulations alone will not be able to prevent all deadly truck accidents.

For immediate assistance, contact a Denver truck accident lawyer.

The Warrior Truck Accident Lawyers works to safeguard Denver residents and tourists by ensuring that truck accident victims get just compensation for their injuries. To book a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, call 719-300-1100 immediately. Our aggressive, skilled lawyers have decades of expertise defending the rights of truck accident victims across southern Colorado.

Warrior Car Accident Lawyers

1902 W. Colorado Ave., Suite 100

Colorado Springs, CO 80904


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