Last updated: October 2, 2023
When the DOT inspector walks through the door, your office personnel most likely bend over backward to provide them with anything they request. Even though you know everything’s in order, you probably can’t help but wonder if they will find any violations.
There’s no question that when you’re a part of the safety-sensitive industry, the DOT has a plethora of rules and regulations that keep you on your toes. It’s understandable that something may fall through the cracks now and then.
It’s not a bad idea to refresh yourself on Part 382 from time to time. If you’d like a condensed version, you’ve come to the right place.
We put together a list of some common drug and alcohol testing violations to help you steer clear of them.
§382.115 Starting date for testing programs
It’s a little hard to believe that trucking companies actually operate without having a drug-testing program in place. However, it’s actually a common drug testing violation!
You must have your policies and procedures documented in writing before you ever test an employee. That includes any pre-employment drug tests performed before allowing drivers out on the road.
If you’re new to the trucking industry, consider working with a consultant or find a drug testing company that provides a DOT drug testing service. They take over the responsibility of keeping your drug-testing program in compliance.
§382.301(a) Pre-employment testing
You’re short a driver and need to get the load delivered on time. You’ve got a gut feeling that your new hire’s drug test is coming back clean. It can be tempting to let them behind the wheel before you have the official result back.
The regulation specifically states:
“No employer shall allow a driver, who the employer intends to hire or use, to perform safety-sensitive functions unless the employer has received a controlled substances test result from the MRO or C/TPA indicating a verified negative test result for that driver.”
§382.303 Post-accident testing
When a driver is involved in an accident, a drug test must be performed in the following cases:
- A human fatality occurs
- When a citation is issued to the driver for an accident that involves the need for immediate medical treatment away from the scene
- When a citation is issued to the driver for disabling damage to any motor vehicle requiring that it be towed away
Administer alcohol tests within two hours following the accident.
Administer drug tests within 32 hours following the accident.
If a driver fails to complete the required testing within the allotted time frame, employers follow the DOT’s protocol. Start by specifically documenting the reason for not administering the test.
If you use an alcohol and drug testing company, notify them immediately upon receiving word that a driver has been involved in an accident.
§382.305(b) Random testing
The violation that occurs most often in regard to random drug testing is incorrectly figuring the number of employees that must be tested throughout the year.
It boils down to some pretty simple math.
Regulations require that employers randomly test 10% of their drivers for alcohol each year and 25% for controlled substances. Keep the list of employees current so no names are left out of the draw.
§382.503 Required evaluation and testing
If a driver has been removed from service due to receiving a drug or alcohol violation, they may not perform any safety-sensitive function without meeting all requirements put before them.
§382.211 Refusal to submit to a required alcohol or controlled substances test
If a driver is aware that they won’t be able to pass a drug or alcohol test, they can come up with some very convincing excuses. It can be hard not to let them slide—especially if the excuse is coming from one of your best drivers!
Excuses count as a refusal though.
You can’t allow a driver who refuses a test to continue to perform safety-sensitive functions. Not even if the driver was halfway across the country when they refused!
§382.201 Alcohol concentration
It’s hard to grasp the thought that an employer would knowingly allow a driver to get behind the wheel with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.
It surely made the list due to violations incurred by drivers rather than their employers. Addicts find ways to justify their abuse.
§382.305 Random testing
There are instances of employers who fail to set up a random drug testing program. Other common violations pertaining to random testing include:
- Failure to send selected drivers for testing
- Failure to compensate for missed tests due to terminations, layoffs, or vacations, in a later draw
- Neglecting to maintain proper documentation
§382.215 Controlled substances testing
Again, it’s unfathomable to think that an employer would knowingly let someone behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle—any vehicle actually—if they are impaired by drug use.
Drivers don’t always agree with that sentiment. In fact, some intentionally use drugs to stay awake for longer periods of time. Others smoke marijuana or take a little drink to cope with the monotony of driving alone.
If a driver has a positive result or there’s proof that they submitted an adulterated or substituted sample, the driver may not drive until completing the return-to-duty process.
It’s all for safety’s sake
The Department of Transportation is responsible for the general public’s safety on the roads, in the air, or at sea. Setting rules and regulations for the transportation industry to follow helps them reach that goal.
No one should ever operate a motor vehicle when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
They are likely to cause impaired judgment, a loss of concentration, and will decrease reaction time.
The risk of being involved in an accident while you’re driving increases dramatically.
It might be a bit disconcerting when the DOT inspector shows up on-site, but employers understand why they’re there.