The most critical component of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is the testing of commercial motor vehicle operators, whether it is a driver of a motor carrier, school bus, limousine, municipal vehicle, or construction equipment. A common question of owners, employers, and human resource departments is, “What happens if an employee fails a test, or refuses to take the test?”
Let’s take a closer look at the actual testing including: under what circumstances testing will be completed and what happens in the case of a test failure or refusal to test.
Drug and alcohol testing is normally completed for particular reasons. These are often pre-employment checks for prospective employees, regular annual testing of current operators, and tests in the case of “reasonable suspicion.” A determination of reasonable suspicion can be made by a trained supervisor or company official, who can decide the necessity of this test based upon specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the employee.
Testing is also required after a motor vehicle accident that involved a fatality, or in the case that a driver or passenger is treated medically away from the scene. In addition, drug and alcohol testing should be completed in any accident where the vehicles are towed from the scene.
Testing will also be required in order to return to duty after a failure or refusal to test. In all cases, the employee cannot be returned to duty until the next day or the start of the employee’s next regularly scheduled duty period, but not less than 24 hours following the test.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “driver fails a drug or alcohol test by testing positive to a drug test, or registering a 0.04 or greater alcohol content. Either of these results requires the driver to be immediately removed from performing safety-sensitive functions (i.e., driving CMVs) until successful completion of the return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional.”
An operator’s refusal to submit to drug or alcohol testing is tantamount to testing positive on a drug or alcohol test. The driver will immediately be removed from performing safety-sensitive functions (i.e., driving CMVs) until successful completion of the return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional. For more information on refusals check out the link to the FMCSA questionnaire.
For more information on testing and the Clearinghouse Rule check out the Clearinghouse Navigator online.