3 Reasons to Switch your Driver Drug and Alcohol Consortium (C/TPA) Management

3 Reasons to Switch your Driver Drug and Alcohol Consortium (C/TPA) Management

Is your Consortium/TPA (C/TPA) experts in DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations? You can find out by reading their drug testing blog articles, see if they offer drug testing management training, and look at their customer reviews.

Companies today, regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), face strict drug testing regulations and complicated management processes that have been changing rapidly in the last few years.

This includes:

  1. New hire driver file management and past employer drug testing history
  2. Registering and using the CDL Clearinghouse database annually and for newly hired drivers
  3. Loading new reasonable suspicion information to the CDL Clearinghouse database
  4. Managing random selection of drivers for drug testing and meeting quarterly or annual required random testing rates
  5. Fulfilling paperwork requirements and follow-up during the drug testing and lab testing processes
  6. Switching to updated chain of custody forms (CCF) or using electronic CCFs
  7. Storing drug testing results and other recordkeeping requirements
  8. Understanding changes to the required drug test panels on what drugs are being tested
  9. Staying up to date on local, state, and federal discussions around marijuana legalization
  10. Having all supervisors of DOT regulated drivers complete the required 120 minutes of Reasonable-Suspicion Training

These are a lot of requirements that smaller fleets and owner-operators often handle poorly, simply because they would never have enough time to manage everything properly. For this reason, most motor carriers choose to have a Consortium/Third-Party Administrator manage their drug testing program.

According to the FMCSA, “C/TPAs manage all, or part, of an employer’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program, sometimes including maintaining required testing records. They perform tasks as agreed to by the employer to assist in implementing the drug and alcohol testing program and to help keep the employer compliant with the DOT/FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing rules and regulations.”

While there are no DOT qualification requirements (though this may change in the future) for a consortium or third-party administrator, the expectation is that they know:

  • all of the employer requirements and responsibilities under 49 CFR Part 40 and Part 382,
  • requirements of Part 383 (CDL Licensing),
  • requirements of Part 391 (Driver Qualifications), and 
  • requirements of Part 392 (Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles)

If you currently have a consortium handling your drug testing program, do you trust that they are experts in the industry and can handle some or all these processes?

 

How do you find the right Consortium/TPA to help your company stay compliant?

Post-accident drug test

The purpose of a DOT drug testing program is to mitigate road safety risk and limit carriers’ exposure to liability.

If you use a local doctors’ office for driver physicals or urine specimen collection, are they qualified to manage your entire DOT drug testing program?

Choosing the wrong partner will make companies face stress, inefficiencies, extra costs, and time-consuming tasks that could have been prevented in the first place.

 

REASON 1: They are not experts in DOT Regulations

The first place to start in finding the right consortium is making sure they are experts in DOT regulations.

You can analyze their expertise by reading their drug testing blog articles, see if they offer drug testing management training, and look at their customer reviews.

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers. We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

In fact, CNS offers complete DOT compliance from licensing, driver file management, ELDs, audit services, and so much more.

It is our mission to make the roads a safer place for all to travel by improving the safety, protection, and compliance of the industries we serve. Our vision is to stay at the forefront of safety, compliance, and risk in an ever-changing industry.

READ CNS DRUG TESTING ARTICLES

 

REASON 2: They are not organized

The second critical consideration is organization and the simplicity to order, track, and access drug test results.

Carriers that manage their own drug testing programs quickly realize the complicated process of building a list of trustworthy drug testing sites across the nation, especially when a driver suddenly needs a drug test far away from home.

At CNS, our consortium offers an online results portal where our consortium clients can:

  • order their own chain of custody forms for a drug test
  • search collection sites near a driver location
  • see the status of a chain of custody order and the results of the test, and
  • download chain of custody forms for audit or other purposes.

We have over 15,000 collection sites we work with across the nation.

 

REASON 3: They are not customer friendly

Lastly, partner with a consortium that will go above and beyond in customer service.

While we vet our collection sites that we work with across the country, mistakes still happen that delay drug test results and slows the hiring process.

The best consortiums track down chain of custody forms, talk to labs about the status of the testing process and results, and work with collection sites and labs to address chain of custody form mistakes that need to be corrected before continuing.

All these things help speed up the testing process and help you get new drivers on the road faster.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Become a CNS Consortium member today

No matter if you are a single driver operation or have 15+ drivers in your fleet, we treat all our clients equally. Save time, money, and reduce stress by switch today.

DOT Consortium: 1-14 Drivers

This membership is a flat rate of $80/driver for enrollment and includes any in-network random drug tests for 1 year.

There is a $75 pre-employment test for any drivers that have been deactivated from the random pool for over 30 days or have missed a random selection to get a new pre-employment drug test.

Store_Consortium 1-14 drivers

1st Carriers between 1-14 drivers, This would be flat rate 80 per driver for enrollment. $75 pre employment test.
  • Holders of a commercial driver’s license who operate "Commercial Motor Vehicles" in interstate or intrastate commerce are subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations. These drivers should be included in the consortium.
  • Please enter a number from 1 to 14.
  • Pre-employment drug testing is required by DOT to add a driver to the random pool. DOT requires drivers that have been deactivated from the random pool for over 30 days or have missed a random selection to get a new pre-employment drug test, which is actually a pre-safety sensitive test.
  • Payment

  • $0.00
  • American Express
    Discover
    MasterCard
    Visa
    Supported Credit Cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
     

DOT Consortium: 15+ Drivers

This membership is for carriers with 15 drivers or more and can be in their own testing pool.

Enrollment is $10/driver, and $75 per any drug test issued. 

If a driver has been deactivated from the random pool for over 30 days or have missed a random selection to get a new pre-employment drug test, a pre-employment drug test is required.

Store_Consortium 15+ drivers

Carriers with 15+ drivers, has enrollment fee of $10 per driver and $75 for any tests needed.
  • Holders of a commercial driver’s license who operate "Commercial Motor Vehicles" in interstate or intrastate commerce are subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations. These drivers should be included in the consortium.
  • Please enter a number greater than or equal to 15.
  • Pre-employment drug testing is required by DOT to add a driver to the random pool. DOT requires drivers that have been deactivated from the random pool for over 30 days or have missed a random selection to get a new pre-employment drug test, which is actually a pre-safety sensitive test.
  • Payment

  • $0.00
  • American Express
    Discover
    MasterCard
    Visa
    Supported Credit Cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
     

States Will Downgrade CDLs Quickly for Recent FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Violations

States Will Downgrade CDLs Quickly for Recent FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Violations

FMCSA Will Notify States of Recent Drug and Alcohol Violations and Require States 60 Days to Revoke CDLs

One of the biggest FMCSA drug testing loopholes is closing as state driver license agencies (SLDAs) will soon be required to initiate the downgrade process for licenses of drivers who have a drug or alcohol violation in the Clearinghouse.

States are already required to check FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse database for violations before issuing new licenses or renewing the licenses and must not “issue, renew, upgrade or transfer a commercial driver’s license, or commercial learner’s permit when a driver has tested positive for drugs or alcohol.”

As of August, 87,438 drivers had at least one drug or alcohol violation, according to the Clearinghouse database.

However, most of these state agencies do not currently receive the CDL driver drug and alcohol violations when they first happen.

“Therefore, these SDLAs are unaware when a commercial motor vehicle operator is subject to the driving prohibition, and the CMV operator continues to hold a valid CDL or CLP, despite the driving prohibition,” said a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in their announcement.

Federal regulators are requiring SDLAs to remove the CDL holders driving privileges within 60 days after being notified of a test failure and prohibiting certain CDL transactions for drivers in the database.

There are two ways the FMCSA will notify state agencies:

  • FMCSA will “push” the information to the SDLA whenever a drug or alcohol program violation is reported to the Clearinghouse for a CLP or CDL holder licensed in that State.
  • FMCSA will also “push” a notification to the SDLA when the driver complies with return-to-duty requirements and is no longer prohibited from operating a CMV.

In addition, “if FMCSA determines that a driver was erroneously identified as prohibited, the Agency will notify the SDLA that the individual is not prohibited from operating a CMV; the SDLA must promptly reinstate the commercial driving privilege to the driver’s license, and expunge the driving record accordingly.”

Future of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and Exemption Requests

The rule will help keep unsafe drivers off the road by increasing compliance “with the CMV driving prohibition”.

Most of the licensing agencies said that even if FMCSA notified the driver of an impending downgrade, they would still be required to notify the driver directly, as required by state law.

The rule is effective Nov. 8, 2021 and states must achieve “substantial compliance” with the applicable requirements of the final rule as soon as practicable, but not later than Nov. 18, 2024.

Need Clearinghouse and Compliance help?

It is important to note that effective January 6, 2023, the FMCSA clearinghouse will become the sole query source for employers to meet the requirement to identify prospective drivers with drug and alcohol violations.

Right now, carriers must request previous employment for drug testing history and query the Clearinghouse database.

Carriers must also perform a clearinghouse query on all drivers annually. If non-compliance surfaces in a compliance review or safety audit, a carrier faces a fine of up to $2,500 per offense.

CNS offers a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Lab Delays Increase with Quarterly Testing Spike, Shipping Delays, and CCF Errors

Lab Delays Increase with Quarterly Testing Spike, Shipping Delays, and CCF Errors

Many businesses requiring pre-employment or random drug testing are seeing delays in drug tests across the country.

We understand the frustration to get these employees working as quickly as possible. As we continually reach out to labs to check the status of the specimens for our client’s, below are what we are seeing causing the delays.

Shipping delays in drug screen specimens arriving at the lab

These shipping delays are due to heavy package volume caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 business closures, staffing shortages, weather, and other service disruptions.

There is also an especially large volume of specimens at end of each quarter as companies and consortiums need to meet the minimum DOT testing percentage requirements.

At least 50% of DOT governed employees in a testing pool must be randomly tested for drugs while 10% must be tested for alcohol by the end of the testing year. These minimum testing requirements are managed on a quarterly basis.

If these numbers are not met for any pool, every company that has drivers in that pool is out of compliance with the DOT.

Other shipping delays may occur due to the timing of the courier pickup. For example, a specimen collected at 4:50pm might miss the collection site’s courier pickup and would not get to the lab for an extra day. A specimen collected at 8:30am will ship at the same time as every other specimen collected that day (often around 3-5 pm). Also, a specimen collected on a Friday, might not be tested at the lab until Monday.  

These delays are affecting the entire US, not just isolated areas. However, in some isolated cases, specimens are taking up to 7 days to arrive at the lab. 

Lab turnaround delays

With lab turnarounds being an issue, it is important to note that labs are experiencing the same staffing shortages as other businesses. 

In July, i3screen reported that there are turnaround delays on test results due to staffing shortages at several laboratories, affecting both Quest and LabCorp.

Laboratories receive thousands of specimens each night from couriers and lab technicians, review all chain of custody forms to make sure each chain does not have missing information, and perform a Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) test on samples with trace amounts of drugs during the initial screen.

If there is any trace of drugs in that initial screen’s sample, it goes through a GCMS test once or multiple times (after breaking down the urine sample further) until the test produces an affirmative negative, positive, negative-dilute, or positive-dilute result.

Since a batch of drug test samples gets processed once every 24 hours during the GCMS testing, the staffing shortage is likely to backlog these processes further.

For our clients, as soon as a result is reported to the MRO team, we will get the results out as soon as possible. CNS is not experiencing any delays within the MRO department and results that come in from the lab that can be released to the client are sent out within 2 hours. 

Collection site error delays

Errors made by the employer or collection site may require affidavits to be completed and sent back to the lab for the technicians to verify again before they will even run the test.

With staffing shortages affecting the largest drug screening labs across the country, the delays in turnaround will be most visible with these chain of custody form flaws.

An example of a correctable flaw is when the lab receives an old CCF, missing signatures, etc.

In addition, certain affidavits/items are legally required by the MRO team before results can be released such as: DOT upgrades and downgrades, MRO copies of the CCFs, missing temperatures, etc.

These types of errors cause significant delays. 

Drug and Alcohol Services

CNS offers a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.

We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Staffing Shortages at Labs Causing Turnaround Delays for Drug Screens

i3screen is reporting that there are turnaround delays on drug test results due to staffing shortages at several laboratories, affecting both Quest and LabCorp.

As the nursing shortage hits the healthcare system, escalating due to COVID burnout, the laboratory community is facing not enough medical technologists to properly staff the nation’s laboratories.

i3screen is reporting that there are turnaround delays on drug test results due to staffing shortages at several laboratories, affecting both Quest and LabCorp.

Laboratories receive thousands of specimens each night from couriers and lab technicians, review all chain of custody forms to make sure each chain does not have missing information, and perform a Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) test on samples with trace amounts of drugs during the initial screen.

With staffing shortages affecting the largest drug screening labs across the country, the delays in turnaround will be most visible if there are chain of custody form flaws or drugs potentially found in the specimen.

This is because when it is determined that a chain has a correctable flaw, the lab sends a memorandum of record (or affidavit) to the collector to be completed and sent back to the lab for the technicians to verify again.

An example of a correctable flaw is when the lab receives an old CCF and requests an affidavit to be fixed. The lab cannot proceed with testing the sample until they receive the completed memorandum, which delays the overall resulting times.

If there is any trace of drugs in that initial screen’s sample, it goes through a GCMS test once or multiple times (after breaking down the urine sample further) until the test produces an affirmative negative, positive, negative-dilute, or positive-dilute result.

Since a batch of drug test samples gets processed once every 24 hours during the GCMS testing, the staffing shortage is likely to backlog these processes further.

For our clients, as soon as a result is reported to the MRO team, we will get the results out as soon as possible.

Drug and Alcohol Services

At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.

We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

When to Use the Most Effective Methods of Drug Testing in Company Policies

DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

Of the three different types of drug testing – urine, oral saliva, and hair testing – which one is most effective to determine drug use?

Urine has been the “gold standard” as the most common method for drug testing across the industry, even as oral (saliva) and hair testing techniques have improved reliability over last few decades.

As we wait for Health and Human Services (HHS) to release hair testing guidelines and the Department of Transportation to adopt those guidelines for safety sensitive positions across Aviation, Commercial Motor Carriers (FMCSA), Maritime, Pipeline, Railroad, and Transit, the discussion of what type of drug testing methods are most effective is now heating up.

Unfortunately, there are many who are misguided on the strategy of when to use each drug testing method as there are pros and cons to each method and the reasons for testing.

So, let us break this down for you.

 

What is the most effective method for drug testing?

The problem with this question is companies are considering dropping urine for oral or hair testing for every type of reason an employee would be tested. This is misguided.

It is important to note that there are various restrictive state drug testing regulations that may prevent companies from drug testing, who they can or cannot drug test and why. 

Regardless, companies need to remember the various reasons they are testing employees. These are:

  • Pre-employment
  • Reasonable Suspicion
  • Post-accident
  • Random
  • Follow-Up or Return-to-Duty

Each reason for testing has their own goals for keeping employees and assets safe.

For example, the goal of pre-employment testing is making sure your staff, especially in safety-sensitive positions, do not have a history of drug abuse. In this situation, it would be ideal to use a drug testing method that provides a longer drug use history. Conversely, for reasonable suspicion testing, a shorter drug detection window would be more effective as it can accurately find recent drug use.

Understanding which method for testing has a shorter detection window would help companies decide if that method is best for this reason.

 

Breaking down collection testing methods

To help make choices on which method of testing is best for your company and reason for testing, we need to break down and compare urine, hair, and oral saliva testing into:

  • Detection Window
  • Collection Time
  • Turnaround Time
  • Ideal Reason for Testing

 

Urine TestingOral (Saliva) TestingHair Testing
RegulatedHHS + DOTPending HHS + DOTPending HHS + DOT
Detection Window2 – 7 days8 – 48 hours, short detection window7 – 90 days, long detection window
Collection Time10+ min depending on if donor did not provide enough sample15 minutes, non-invasive5 minutes, less invasive
Turnaround Time24-48 hours24-72 hours24-72 hours
Ideal Reason for TestingSuitable for all testing reasonsReasonable Suspicion & post-accident testing programPost-accident, reasonable suspicion, pre-employment, and random testing program

 

Now that we understand the pros and cons to each method of drug testing, let us dive into which method is most effective for the reasons a company would drug test.

Urine testing: As the most common testing method, urine testing can detect recent use, between one to three days and is suitable for all testing reasons and types of drugs being tested.

Oral saliva testing: Mouth swab testing is the least invasive method of testing and can detect recent drug use within the first few hours to 48 hours. This makes oral testing the best testing method for both reasonable suspicion and post-accident testing.  

Hair testing: Using hair samples from the body is the only method of drug testing that can detect drugs and alcohol in the system from a week to 90+ days, unlike urine testing, which only detects drugs and alcohol up to 7 days. In recent statistics from Quest, hair testing provides nearly twice the number of positives drug tests than urine testing due to its longer detection time-frame and is the best option for a pre-employment or random testing program.

When looking at updating your company drug testing policies, we believe a mix in methods is the most beneficial in your drug testing programs. Again, it is important to note that there are various restrictive state drug testing regulations that may prevent companies from drug testing, who they can or cannot test and why. 

 

Drug and Alcohol Services

At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.

We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.


Why Reasonable Suspicion Training For Managers Is So Important

Why Reasonable Suspicion Training For Managers Is So Important

One of the most difficult things about reasonable suspicion testing for supervisors is the fear of being wrong when “accusing” an employee of using drugs or alcohol, but the profound impact on safety, well-being and productivity may outweigh those fears.

With the continued rise of the opioid epidemic amplified with the pandemic, marijuana legalization across the nation, and changes to DOT testing regulations, managers need to refresh themselves on the requirements and the importance of reasonable suspicion to keep the workplace safe.

Supervisors often fear being sued or having a labor grievance action brought against them because of their decision to conduct a reasonable suspicion test.

These fears can be minimized if supervisors remember that requiring an employee to submit to a reasonable suspicion test is not an accusation of drug or alcohol use, nor is it an attempt to diagnose substance abuse or addiction. Rather, it is a method for “ruling out” a possible cause or explanation for employee behavior or appearance that is cause for concern.

Federal (DOT) Regulations Around Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion Training is for supervisors and managers of any employee covered by company’s drug and alcohol policy, human resource managers or DERs, upper management, or anyone else responsible for safety within the company.

For the FMCSA, PHMSA, FTA:

  • They must complete at least 2 hours of supervisor training—one hour on signs and symptoms associated with drug use and one hour on signs and symptom associated with alcohol misuse.
  • For owner operators, if the wife is doing your books and manages while you are on the road, she should need this training. If the husband and wife both drive, they would both need the training as they are supervising while the other drives.

Even if the reasonable suspicion test cannot be conducted, the employer is still required to remove any employee from safety-sensitive duties whose behavior or appearance is indicative of being under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is described as a set of circumstances that give you reason to conduct a “fitness for duty” assessment of an employee based on objective observations.

The suspicion is based on observations of the individual employee. It is not a generalized belief or “gut feeling” about a group or category of employees based on such characteristics as dress, ethnicity, age, or occupation. A reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch; it is a rational conclusion drawn from objective observations of the individual over a period of time.

Many people can confuse reasonable suspicion and probable cause, and there is a difference between the two. Probable cause generally implies that there is evidence to support a probable conclusion—e.g., drug or alcohol use. Reasonable suspicion leaves room for an action to “rule out” or eliminate a particular cause for the observed phenomenon. In other words, the reasonable suspicion test is used as much to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance, as it is to prove that alcohol or drugs is the causative agent.

The supervisor’s role is to:

  • identify the specific observations of employee behavior or appearance that justify a reasonable suspicion test,
  • confront the employee concerning the requirement to undergo reasonable suspicion testing, and
  • fully explain the consequences of the employee’s refusal to comply.

Reasonable suspicion testing is used to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance. Drug testing is a mechanism to determine if the employee has used a prohibited drug; regardless of when, or what amount.

The overall goal of Reasonable Suspicion Training is to protect public and workplace safety by ensuring the removal of employees from safety sensitive duties when their behavior and appearance indicate possible illegal drug use or alcohol misuse.

Basically, it gives a company eyes and ears throughout the workforce, with supervisors acting as the frontline defense for workplace safety.

The supervisor’s responsibility is to be alert to changes in the employee’s behavior and/or appearance, not to a specific set of symptoms associated with each drug or drug class.

Deciding that a reasonable suspicion test is necessary involves the supervisor’s specific interaction with the employee and should always be made based on current information. In the absence of current signs and symptoms, a reasonable suspicion drug test would generally not be merited on a past incident.

DOT Training and Safety Meetings

To teach you what the regulations say about how to handle reasonable suspicion, the process and documentation required, and tips to make sure you stay in compliance with those rules, our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person, or online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company, including Reasonable Suspicion Training for managers.

Fleet management and driver training education is a very valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet and compliant safety practices.

Our trainers can tailor training to your specific operation.


Interested in Training?


DOT Virtual SAP Assessments and Delayed Collector Requalification through June 2021

Looking for a DOT SAP?
SAPlist.com is the #1 source for finding a Substance Abuse Professional

DOT Virtual SAP Assessment

SAPs are allowed, if they voluntarily choose to do so, to conduct a remote “face-to-face” evaluation and assessment while this policy is in effect during the pandemic.

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) provided guidance about the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency on DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements for employers, employees, and service agents (collectors, MROs, SAPs). 

On April 4, 2020, ODAPC provided supplemental information specific to performing remote evaluations by Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP) and the re-qualification timelines for collectors, Medical Review Officers (MRO), Screening Test Technicians (STT) and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), and SAPs.  

As of December 09, 2020, this statement is now effective through June 30, 2021.

Virtual SAP Assessments and Evaluations Allowed During Pandemic

Under federal regulations, the SAP must conduct a face-to-face, or in-person, assessment and evaluation of an employee who has violated DOT drug and alcohol regulations. 

ODAPC recognizes that conducting face-to-face assessments and evaluations during the pandemic may not be possible for certain individuals.

SAPs are allowed, if they voluntarily choose to do so, to conduct a remote “face-to-face” evaluation and assessment while this policy is in effect during the pandemic.

ODAPC recommends that, when a SAP conducts assessments and evaluations remotely, the format of the assessment be documented in the final report for reference.

ODAPC realizes that performing evaluations remotely may not provide as much information to the SAP as a face-to-face evaluation would, but believes remote evaluations are preferable to not performing the evaluations at all. 

SAPs who choose to conduct initial assessments and evaluations and follow up evaluations remotely should consider the following parameters:

  • The technology used should permit a real-time two-way audio and visual communication and interaction between you and the employee.
  • You should determine if the quality of the technology (e.g., speed of the internet connection, clarity of the display, application being used, etc.) is sufficient for you to gather all the visual (e.g., non-verbal physical cues) and audible information you would normally observe in an in-person face-to-face interaction.
  • You may only utilize the technology if your State-issued license authorizes you to do so and within the parameters of that authority.

Delayed Collector and Other Service Agents Requalification Is Allowed

Under federal regulations, collectors, MROs, STT/BATs, and SAPs are required to maintain their DOT required qualifications by completing refresher training courses to continue acting as service agents in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program. 

  • Collectors and STT/BATs must complete refresher training every five years
  • MROs must complete requalification training every five years, and
  • SAPs must complete 12 professional development hours every three years

DOT realizes that during the pandemic, these service agents may find it difficult to find the necessary resources (e.g., exam location or personnel to conduct mock collections, etc.) to meet their re-qualification requirements.

If a service agent is unable to meet their re-qualification due date while this statement of enforcement discretion is in effect, DOT will not consider it a non-compliance for purposes of starting a public interest exclusion proceeding against the service agent. 

DOT will consider these service agents qualified per Part 40 to continue providing the Part 40 required services while this policy is in effect.

Find a DOT SAP:
SAPlist.com is the #1 source for finding a Substance Abuse Professional


DOT Training

All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:

  • driver training that is ongoing and consistent
  • driver education, and
  • driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws

All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person or online training courses tailored to the specific needs or weaknesses of your company.


Interested in Training?

How HHS Hair Testing Proposal Falls Short and When To Expect DOT Hair Testing

dot pre-employment hair testing

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just wrapped up their 60-day comment period on their long-anticipated proposed hair testing guidelines.

Since 2015, when Congress mandated HHS to release hair testing guidelines, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the trucking industry has increased random drug testing requirements due to the rise in rates of positive drug tests. The DOT also released a national drug testing results Clearinghouse Database to help reduce the number of safety-sensitive employees using controlled substances. Learn how to sign-up for the Clearinghouse

The industry is seeking additional drug testing methods, like hair and oral saliva testing, that can be used to prevent unsafe drivers on the roads as these methods are harder to cheat and provide a more complete drug testing history.

Learn more about Current DOT Drug Testing

Large fleets have long used hair testing for pre-employment testing, catching 5 to 10 times more drug users than industry standard urine testing. However, currently these positive results cannot be released to the drivers record per DOT regulations.

Once completed, the DOT will adopt HHS hair testing guidelines and eventually prevent these drivers from seeking a job with another fleet. As of right now,  the proposed guidelines fall short of what the trucking industry has been hoping for.

Let’s break this down.

Why use hair testing as an alternative testing method?

The biggest problem with urine testing is how many options there are to try and cheat a drug test. These methods include:

  • synthetic “fake” urine
  • watering down the urine, or
  • slipping in clean urine from someone else

While there are processes in place to catch individuals cheating the system, many people claim to have cheated and never been caught. Hair testing on the other hand is virtually impossible to cheat when done properly. There is no scientific proof that results can be manipulated by:

  • dying your hair
  • applying hair products
  • detox kits, or
  • any other misconceptions  about manipulating test results.

Additionally, the hair testing can detect drugs and alcohol in the system from a week to 90+ days, unlike urine testing, which only detects drugs and alcohol up to 7 days. Employers have long been using hair testing for pre-employment testing so they can better understand a potential new hire’s drug testing history.

“The scary part is, while a driver can be disqualified from driving from Werner Enterprises, they’re able to go to another carrier [that may not use hair testing] because hair testing isn’t recognized under federal regulations,” said Jamie Maus, vice president of safety and compliance at Werner Enterprises.

“Of the 5,000 positive hair tests in the last couple of years, only a handful of those also tested positive in urine, so only a handful of those would have been reported to the current Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse or to other companies.”

“What was more surprising was the types of drugs we were picking up. The number one drug we see is cocaine, then amphetamines, and then opioids – marijuana is not even in the top tier.”

While critics of hair-testing claim it can result in false positives because certain drugs can be absorbed into the hair from secondhand smoke, or that it may offer racial bias in test results, hair-testing advocates say those concerns are unfounded and scientifically unproven.


Need more information?

Our DOT Compliance Specialists will give you a free estimate and can also answer any questions you have regarding DOT Compliance, Trucking Insurance or any other questions related to the Transportation Industry.

Why the HHS hair testing proposal falls short

The biggest problem with the proposed hair testing guidelines is that, if hair testing results come back positive, a second urine test is required to confirm the positive test result.

This means a urine specimen must be collected at the time of the hair test or an employee must give a urine specimen by an MRO when reviewing a positive hair test result.

Not only will this create scenarios where a driver could receive a positive hair test result and a negative urinalysis test result, it also creates other issues such as:

  • extra testing costs for confirmation testing
  • longer driver downtime while waiting for test results, and
  • complicated logistics of collectors or labs keeping an authorized second urine specimen for an undisclosed period of time while waiting for the MRO to determine if the specimen is needed for confirmation testing.

According to industry experts, hundreds of thousands of secondary urine specimens per day may need to be shipped to two completely different testing laboratories as some labs do not test both hair and urine and millions of these specimens will be collected, shipped, identified, and eventually discarded for no reason, significantly increasing testing costs to companies.

When can we expect DOT hair testing?

The HHS proposed hair testing guidelines were published in the Federal Register on September 10, 2020. After the 60-day comment period, which ended November 10, 2020, HHS will review all comments and can make additional changes to their proposal. This process could take months. 

When HHS releases their final proposed guidelines, the industry will need to wait for the Department of Transportation to go through its rulemaking process to allow the use of hair testing by motor carriers. While the DOT will likely adopt HHS guidelines, this process could take two years on its own.

However, Congress may try to push for immediate DOT adoption and the incoming Biden administration may apply pressure to speed up this process as well.


Drug and Alcohol Services

At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.

We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT SAP and Return-to-Duty Process

DOT SAP and Return-to-Duty Process | DOT Compliance | CNS

What is the return-to-duty and follow-up DOT SAP process?

After a driver receives a failed drug test result, they must begin the return-to-duty process in order to get back on the road, and then continue a follow-up testing process for the next 12+ months.

It is more evident today for employers and drivers to understand this SAP process. In the first two months, the new DOT Clearinghouse has calculated over 11,000 drivers found with a positive drug test result. These employees are now walking through the SAP and return-to-duty process before they can begin safety-sensitive functions.

This process begins with an evaluation of a substance abuse professional, as required in the federal regulations in 49 CFR Part 40 Subpart O.

Find a DOT SAP:
SAPlist.com is the #1 source for finding a Substance Abuse Professional

What is a DOT SAP?

The Substance Abuse Professional, or “SAP”, according to the DOT, is “a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.”

The SAP makes the important decisions on whether or not an employee is ready to drive a truck, school bus, oil tanker, train, airplane, subway car, or other regulated vehicles and how long the follow-up testing end education program should take.

How much does a DOT SAP program cost?

There are several different ways to evaluate the cost of the SAP process. There is the initial SAP examination fee, the education program, the DOT return-to-duty drug test, and the 6+ follow-up testing program.

Unfortunately, the length of the follow-up testing program can be 12 months to 5 years, depending on the SAPs recommendation. So it is hard to estimate a total cost.

On average, the SAP evaluation process can cost between $400 to $500. Drug tests average between $30 to $60 dollars each. The minimum SAP and follow-up testing program can cost an employer or the driver, depending on the company policy of who pays for the program, to be at least $700 for the first year.

How long is the DOT SAP program?

Each SAP program is customized for the person going through it, which can cause a wide range of time when estimating the length of a SAP program. However, this process can be split into two major sections: the time to return-to-duty, and the time to finish the follow-up testing program.

First, there is the SAP evaluation and return-to-duty process so a driver can get back to safety-sensitive functions. This process includes finding a qualified DOT SAP, the SAP evaluation, the SAP talking to a physician if the driver is convinced that a prescription could have caused a false-positive drug test, the length of time to finish an education treatment program,  the second SAP evaluation after completing the program, and passing a return-to-duty drug test. This whole process can take weeks to months to finish.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

Second, there is the follow-up testing program. According to the regulations, the SAP is required to recommend a minimum of 6 unannounced observed drug tests in the first 12 months after returning to duty. However, the SAP can recommend a program of follow-up drug tests for as long as 5 years. A repeated failed or refused test could require the process to be started all over.

What is the DOT return-to-duty process?

Before an employee can return to duty for safety-sensitive functions, they must complete the return-to-duty process. Once a positive test result is found, the following steps are required:

  • Immediately remove the employee from safety-sensitive
  • Find a qualified DOT SAP and complete an initial SAP evaluation
  • Finish a SAP recommended education or treatment program
  • When finished, complete a second SAP evaluation
  • If the SAP report is good, complete a return-to-duty observed drug test

Once the DER receives the negative result, the employee can begin safety-sensitive functions again.

However, after the second SAP evaluation, a follow-up testing schedule is given to the DER. The follow-up testing schedule is a minimum of 6 unannounced observed drug tests within the first 12 months of returning to safety-sensitive work and can last up to 60 months, or five years, depending on the SAP recommendation. 


For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

What is the FMCSA Clearinghouse? Common issues and FAQs

What is the FMCSA Clearinghouse? | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

What is the FMCSA Clearinghouse?

On January 6, 2020, the FMCSA launched the FMCSA Clearinghouse, an online database where CDL driver drug and alcohol testing violations and return-to-duty information will be stored and searched.

The purpose of the FMCSA Clearinghouse is to prevent job hopping of CDL drivers with positive drug and alcohol test results, refusal to test or information on a driver’s return-to-duty process.

Read: Major CDL Clearinghouse Deadline Approaching or Face Fines

DOT Clearinghouse: Employers and CDL Drivers

There are many new procedures that drivers, employers, consortium/TPAs and others must follow with the FMCSA Clearinghouse now in effect for pre-employment, random testing and return-to-duty processes.

Employers of CDL drivers must follow a new drug testing process when hiring a potential new driver before a pre-employment drug test can be done at a collection site.

What is required of employers?

  1. Before the new hire driver can be tested, the employer needs to:
    • make sure the driver is registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse,
    • then request electronic driver consent to run a detailed query,
    • run a query on the driver (employer or C/TPA), and
    • ensure no recent negative drug testing history is present

After the detailed query is done, the pre-employment drug test can continue as part of the pre-employment new-hire process.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

  1. Employers must query the Clearinghouse and request 3 years of drug and alcohol testing history until January 6, 2023.
    • After that, the clearinghouse query will replace the need for employer requests.
  1. Employers must run annual limited queries for current drivers at least once a year.
    • If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required.

What is required of CDL drivers?

There are 3 reasons why CDL drivers need to register to the DOT clearinghouse:

  1. drivers are changing employers
    • registering allows employers to run queries to gather useful information during the hiring process
  2. drivers are registering with an SAP after a violation, and
  3. currently employed drivers are giving consent for an annual query

Let us know how we can help:
Ask us about our Drug and Alcohol Services

FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse FAQ

Is the FMCSA Clearinghouse mandatory?

Yes, it is mandatory if your business is governed by the FMCSA.

Information in the FMCSA Clearinghouse database will include:

  1. positive drug and alcohol test results
  2. refusal to test, and/or
  3. information on CDL driver’s return-to-duty process
    • if the CMV has a gross weight greater than 26,000 pounds, has more than 15 seatbelts or is hauling anything requiring DOT HAZMAT placards.

Who must register for the FMCSA clearinghouse?

Registration is mandatory for authorized users so they are able to access the Clearinghouse database and the information mentioned above.

Authorized users include:

  • Drivers holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
  • Employers of CDL drivers. This includes those who employ themselves as CDL drivers (i.e. – owner-operators)
  • Consortia/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs)
  • Medical Review Officers (MROs)
  • Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs)

Violations can occur if:

  • annual driver queries are not performed in a timely manner
  • required information is not loaded into the database, or
  • if pre-employment drug tests are performed before a new hire gives consent for a detailed query

Note: CMV drivers are not required to immediately register for the clearinghouse; however, they will need to register to respond to pre-employment queries or other full queries.


How do CDL drivers register for the FMCSA Clearinghouse?

To register, or for assistance registering, drivers can go to the
DOT Clearinghouse website for instructions.

How do employers register for the FMCSA Clearinghouse?

To register, or for assistance registering, employers can go to the
DOT Clearinghouse website for instructions.


FMCSA Clearinghouse registration issues

The FMCSA Clearinghouse registration process faced many issues when first launched, most of which are now fixed.

Some of the common issues that employers or owner-operators may face when registering include:

  1. Companies have set up their FMCSA Portal account and do not remember their user-ID, security questions, or email address on the account.
    • Solution: Call the FMCSA to prove who they are before gaining access.
    • This is currently not required to register, as there is a work around in our video above.
  2. Companies have not set-up an FMCSA Portal account and forgot their DOT Pin number.
    • Solution: Fill out a form to request their pin.
    • If you are a carrier before 2010, and there is an old email or no email or phone number, the government will have to mail your DOT Pin number, taking 7-10 business days.
    • This is currently not required to register, as there is a work around in our video above.
  3. Owner-operators seeing errors preventing query purchases is most likely because they are seen as the “employer” and the “driver” and are stuck in the “driver” role.
    • Issue: If you hover over “My Dashboard” and see “Queries” and click “Buy”, an error can pop up.
    • Solution: To get around this, look for the dark blue text that says “Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse”, click there. This sort of refreshes your dashboard and you should now see an option to “Change Your Role”. You need to change your role from “Driver” to “Employer”. Now, you can hover over “My Dashboard”, and click “Buy” where it says queries.

FMCSA Clearinghouse Problems, Hiring Delays and Violations

With any major regulatory rollout, there are always unforeseen issues or new problems that appear.

Some of these problems include:

  1. January 2021, Clearinghouse website may crash again.
    • Early Clearinghouse registration issues led officials to advise employers to wait to register until December 2020 or January 2021. Consequently, a large spike in DOT Clearinghouse web traffic is expected as companies rush to register and submit annual queries to the DOT Clearinghouse before the deadline.
  2. FMCSA Clearinghouse will catch drivers at roadside.
    • According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, starting April 1, 2020, drivers who are prohibited from driving—per the CDL Clearinghouse—will immediately be put out-of-service by CVSA roadside enforcement inspectors and employers will need to arrange for another driver to pick up the load.
  3. Hiring driver process issues:
    • Employer sends a consent request, but the driver has not registered to the Clearinghouse to authorize consent.
      • FMCSA will mail a letter to the driver regarding the consent request (2-3 week process)
    • Employer falsely tells a drug testing site that driver consent was given. If audited, the employer can be held at fault if the violation of no consent was caught, causing delays in the pre-employment testing process, headaches for companies and drug testing sites not up-to-date on Clearinghouse rules.
  4. What happens if you fail or refuse a DOT drug screen?
    • In the first 2 months the DOT Clearinghouse was in effect, over 11,000 drivers were found with a positive drug test and must begin the return-to-duty and SAP process before getting back on the road.

Learn more about:
DOT SAP and Return-To-Duty Process


Drug and Alcohol Services

Do you need help registering to the FMCSA Clearinghouse or looking to switch to a trusted drug testing consortium?

At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.