Increase in Drug Testing Rate

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Ten Things to Know Regarding the Increase in Random Drug Testing Rate for 2020

  1. The FMCSA Administrator will increase the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances to 50 percent for all driver positions (49 CFR 382.305(h)). The new annual random testing percentage rate was effective starting January 1, 2020. The FMCSA estimates there are 3.2 million CDL holders participating in interstate commerce and 1 million participating in intrastate commerce. Under the random testing rate of 25%, this meant at least 1.05 million random controlled substance tests were to be conducted.  With the updated drug testing rate of 50%, about 2.1 million tests will need to be conducted in 2020.
  2. This change reflects the increased positive test rate and will result in an estimated $50-$70 million increase in costs to the industry by requiring that more drivers be tested.
  3. This increase in the rate marks a return to the previous random drug testing levels. The FMCSA reduced the minimum annual percentage rate for 2016 from 50% to 25%.  The random drug testing rate is listed in the regulation at 50%; however, the regulation further allows for a reduced rate when industry positive rate is below 1% (pursuant to 49 CFR 382.403).
  4. The 2018 estimated positive random controlled substance test rate of 1% was slightly higher than rates of previous years. The estimated positive usage rate for drugs was 0.8% in 2017 and 0.7% in 2016, causing the rate to revert back to the 50%.
  5. One factor that may have contributed to the test rate inching back up is the addition by the DOT of certain synthetic opioids in drug screening. Hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone were added in January 2018.a. Another factor is the misconception of state-approved medical and recreational marijuana use. Marijuana is still an FMCSA-banned substance for professional drivers.b. Additionally, many CBD products claim to be THC-free. The CBD industry right now is the wild west without regulations.  Therefore, the user may not know what they are getting.  Even though the packaging claims of no positive tests, driver cases are showing differently.
  6. Increase could have been prevented with federal acceptance of hair testing to screen for drugs. Proposed guidelines that would allow carriers to use hair testing have sat in the Office of Management and Budget since the summer.  A hair testing rule is expected to be proposed by the FMCSA later this year.
  7. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing remains unchanged at 10%.
  8. At the end of the calendar year, you must have randomly tested the proper number of drivers for drugs and alcohol. How many you drew is not what you are judged on.  If you drew enough, but were short on the number tested due to terminations, layoffs, or injuries, you are not in compliance.
  9. If you are running short, the interpretations state that you are allowed to draw alternates to achieve the correct number of tests in the calendar year. Alternates must be drawn using the same scientific selection method used for the regular drawing.
  10. For 2020, you will need to double the number of drivers drawn, so remember to double the money budgeted for drug testing and to double the man hours allotted for notifications, filing, and other administrative tasks.

FMCSA Increase D&A Testing Rate – Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing Policy Update needed.  As a reminder, the policy must be updated as a result of the increase of random drug testing rate and Clearinghouse regulations that changed on Jan 6, 2020 and should be modified to reflect the new testing rates and language.

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