FMCSA Extends Waiver for Pre-Employment Testing

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COVID-19 Pre-Employment Testing

As more businesses are opening back up from the COVID-19 health emergency, the FMCSA earlier this month extended a waiver for pre-employment testing that would reduce drug-testing costs as they rehire drivers.

Current regulations require that new-hire drivers must pass a pre-employment drug and alcohol test for controlled substances before they can perform safety-sensitive functions. These pre-employment drug tests are waived if the new-hire driver was part of a drug 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.

This waiver has been extended from 30 days to 90 days and only valid when hiring drivers on or before September 30, 2020. This is basically extending the length of time a driver can be out of a random testing pool from 30 days to 90 days and be exempt from pre-employment testing if all criteria are met as stated in 382.301(b).

This is in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency where many employers have laid off, furloughed, or temporarily removed employees from safety-sensitive functions and removed from the random pool for controlled substances and alcohol testing for a period greater than 30 days.

According to the FMCSA, “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. 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.”

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Employers must verify that the driver participated in the controlled substances testing specified and had no recorded violations of another DOT agency’s controlled substances use regulations within the previous 6 months. This requires a CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse detailed query.

Also, each employer must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of an involving any driver operating under the terms of this waiver. For more information on accident reporting during the waiver, go to the FMCSA press release.


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Whether you are a large trucking company that is onboarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.

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