Getting the call about a random DOT drug test is never fun. Whether or not you partake in illegal drugs, or banned drugs for truckers, it just adds another chore to your already busy day. In the case of truck drivers doing illicit drugs or prescriptions that aren’t allowed, it also adds an element of serious stress. Like it or not when your number is pulled you have to take care of business. Find out what the chances are for getting a random drug test in 2017 and how to take care of this testing over the road.
Chances of Getting Random DOT Drug Tests
The DOT says they will test 25 percent of the trucking population for drugs and alcohol in 2017. This information is based on random test results from 2016. Considering how many truckers came up positive in a random DOT drug test, the FMCSA can decide whether or not to increase the number of random tests in the future. In fact, in 2016 50 percent of truckers were randomly selected for drug and alcohol screening by the DOT. So to cut that figure in half means one of two things.
For starters take a look at the test results from 2011, 2012 and 2012. During these years the positive results rate was less than 1 percent of those tested. As long as this figure remains below 1 percent the FMCSA will keep the annual testing rate at 25 percent. Were that figure to go up, so will the number of random tests, back to the previous testing rate of 50 percent of the commercial driver population.
Another consideration is funding and manpower. In order to provide random drug tests for 50 percent of the commercial driving population this costs the government a lot of time and money. While the FMCSA stresses that test results are the indicator of why they’ve dropped to 25 percent of the population, there could also be financial reasons for the decline.
We do have the new FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse that is coming into effect this year. This is a major expense to get up and running. We also have the hair sampling for drug testing, which is another costly department venture in the government. With all of these changes it begs to wonder if there’s more than just testing results that have resulted in a quarter fewer truckers being tested this year.
Random Means Random
So if 25 percent of the commercial driver population is getting drug and alcohol testing throughout 2017, what does this mean for you? You have a one in four chance of getting randomly tested by the DOT. However, you can get randomly selected for a drug and alcohol screen more than once this year. That’s part of the random selection process and it does happen to truckers. As a result, just because you’ve been randomly tested once there is still a chance that you could be tested again, totally at random, before 2018. So don’t go out and get all crazy just because you’ve passed one random drug test.
DOT random testing isn’t the only form of drug and alcohol testing you have to get throughout the year. When you go for your annual DOT physical you have a mandatory drug and alcohol screen. This must come back negative so you can get your CDL renewed. Your trucking company whether you drive for California Overland, Bridger Transportation or Florilli Transportation has the right to drug test you at random as well.
Trucking companies are required by their trucking insurance providers to test truckers for insurance requirements. More specifically if you are involved in a trucking accident you will be required to get a drug and alcohol test by the insurance company. Your trucking employer may also use drug tests to verify the safety of their fleets, depending on their own policies. The reality is that drug and alcohol testing is a major factor in being a commercial truck driver.
Whether you drive as an independent trucker or owner operator, or for a major trucking company like Hartt Transportation Systems or K&B Transportation, you want to be able to pass these tests. It is in your best professional interest, as well as in regard to the safety of the roads.
Handling a Random DOT Drug Test
OK so you’ve just left Salt Lake City with a trucking load that you need to haul to Los Angeles. You are running on schedule when lo and beyond you get the call. Your number has been randomly selected by the DOT to get a drug test. Keep in mind the DOT will likely call you direct, but you may also receive this call via your trucking employer. You will be told how long you have to comply with the random test. Often you have just a few days to get tested.
First of all you need to find an office where you can get a random drug test completed. Urgent care facilities, truck stop doctors’ offices, and pharmacies like CVS may be able to assist you. However, generally you have the right to return to your home area in order to get your drug test completed. Of course that load going to Los Angeles is now in jeopardy, but you are responsible for getting the DOT test done on time.