The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires drug and alcohol testing for truck drivers following certain accidents. The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, passed in 1991, outlines these requirements.
This law identifies who must submit to testing, when, and in what situations. The driver’s employer may do testing outside of these specific guidelines, but the Department of Transportation cannot use the results to issue sanctions.
When is post-accident testing required?
Drivers with a CDL who are operating large commercial vehicles have certain obligations to drive in a safe and professional manner, and to keep those around them safe when possible. Some incidents involving commercial trucks are more serious than others, however. According to the law, employers must test a truck driver for drugs and alcohol if any of the following occur.
- The accident leads to a fatality
- A citation is issued to the driver for a moving violation
- Any vehicle involved has disabling damage
- Any person involved requires medical treatment that cannot be provided on the scene
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What are the guidelines concerning the timing of these tests?
In order to ensure accurate results, employers should complete post-accident drug and alcohol tests for truck drivers as soon as possible after an accident or other incident. For this reason, the regulations provide a time limit on testing.
Alcohol testing must happen within the first eight hours after a qualifying accident, and testing for drugs must occur within 32 hours of the accident. If testing does not occur within these time constraints, the employer cannot attempt to test the driver under DOT rules.
It is also important to note that the accident must meet the qualifications for testing listed above at the time the test is given. Employers cannot request a sample “just in case” a fatality occurs later or the police later issue a citation.
Can my company force me to take a test outside these guidelines?
Some companies include a section in their employee handbooks stating that they require a post-accident drug and alcohol screening after any incident. This type of company policy is legal, but the testing is completely separate from any tests conducted under the DOT regulations.
Your employer must make you aware that the tests are non-DOT, and employers must complete them through a non-DOT lab account. As such, employers cannot issue these tests using a DOT form, and there will not be any DOT consequences because of these tests.
If the circumstances of the accident change after one of these tests and your employer must now test you under the DOT regulations, your employer will need to perform another test. Even if it is outside the window for DOT testing, the DOT cannot use the results to determine if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol for DOT purposes.
Bressman Law Helps Accident Victims
Truck accident attorney David Bressman can answer your questions about drug and alcohol testing laws for truck drivers in Ohio. We have three convenient offices in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. Contact us today at (614) 538-1116 to schedule an appointment.