The impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt in unpredictable ways. The latest is a relaxation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) requirement for random drug-testing among drivers. The FMCSA made their announcement on July 6.
Within the current requirements, carriers must randomly test 50 percent of their drivers (based on number of driver positions) for controlled substances and 10 percent of drivers for alcohol throughout the year. This testing must be done regularly and at “reasonable” intervals throughout the year. For the rest of 2020, enforcement of these requirements will relax a bit.
Because testing supplies and locations have become limited in many areas due to COVID-19, non-coronavirus testing has been reduced or eliminated at times beyond a carrier’s control. Carriers will be required to make a strong effort to complete the random drug tests, but if they’re unable to, they will not be penalized for the lack of testing.
In order to take advantage of these relaxed regulations, carriers must document everything: how they tried to fulfill the testing obligation and why they were unable to. This documentation includes, but is not limited to:
- Test facility closures
- Restricted use of testing facilities
- Lack of testing personnel
- Actions taken to find testing alternatives
Carriers who cannot perform random drug testing at regular intervals throughout the year will need to document specific reasons why they were unable to do so. This may include many of the same reasons that testing could not be completed at all.
The relaxation of drug testing regulations is currently in effect only for the calendar year 2020. From the FMCSA announcement: “This Notice pertains to employers’ noncompliance, during calendar year 2020, with the random testing requirements described above. The Agency may exercise enforcement discretion in connection with motor carrier investigations occurring in calendar year 2021.”
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