Drug & Alcohol Consortium

Federally-required testing

The D&A Consortium provides random testing for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and US Coast Guard (USCG). Your membership includes random testing services. Non-random testing services – such as pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, post-accident and return to duty – are available at an additional cost.

Random testing

Pre-employment testing

Reasonable suspicion testing

Post-accident testing

Return to duty/Follow-up testing


Random testing

Random tests are a key part of your program as they discourage employees from using drugs and misusing alcohol. What makes random testing so effective is the element of surprise. While employees know they will be tested, they are never quite sure of when.

Each U.S. DOT agency sets the rate for minimum percentage of drivers or safety sensitive employees that must be tested each year. Click here for this year’s testing rates.

The D&A Consortium contracts with A WorkSAFE Service, Inc. to provide random testing selection. The random selection is made by a scientifically valid method – a computer-based random number generator that is matched with the employees Social Security number, or other identifying number. Each month, all employees in the pool have an equal chance to be selected for testing.

Each month, the primary Designated Employer Representative (DER) is sent information showing any employees selected for random testing for that particular month. The test should not be announced ahead of time to the employee.

Once the employee is notified of random testing required, they should immediately proceed to the testing site, with required forms and identification. (If the employee is performing a safety-sensitive function, other than driving a commercial motor vehicle, at the time of notification, the employer shall instead ensure that the driver ceases to perform the safety-sensitive function and proceeds to the testing site as soon as possible.)

Note: A driver shall only be tested for alcohol while the driver is performing safety-sensitive functions, just before the driver is to perform safety-sensitive functions, or just after the driver has ceased performing such functions.

If the employer is not able to schedule the random test in the month the employee is selected (i.e., due to employee being on Leave of Absence, vacation, or does not meet the driving specifications for the alcohol test) the employer should excuse the employee from random testing that month. This “excused” information should be noted on the random selection paperwork, and faxed or sent back to A WorkSAFE Service, Inc. for documentation purposes.

In order for the D&A Consortium to meet required testing levels, it is very important that the employer makes every effort to have randomly selected employees tested. Excused tests should happen infrequently.

See the current requirements for random drug testing rates, and random alcohol testing rates.


Pre-employment testing

Its important employers understand what’s required at the time of employment, especially for positions that may involve federal transportation, railways, and other workplaces where public safety is of the utmost importance.

Drug tests

You are required to:

  1. Conduct a pre-employment drug test; and
  2. Receive from the MRO a negative test result on the pre-employment drug test for a person prior to hiring or prior to using that person in a safety-sensitive position for the first time. This requirement also applies when a current employee is transferring from a non-safety sensitive position to a safely-sensitive job for the first time.

Alcohol tests

You may conduct pre-employment alcohol testing under U.S. DOT authority, but only if two conditions are met:

  1. The pre-employment alcohol testing must be accomplished for all applicants [and transfers], not just some; and
  2. The testing must be conducted as a post-offer requirement – meaning you must inform the applicant that he or she has the job if he or she passes a DOT alcohol test.

FMCSA – see Part 382.301 for exceptions to the required drug test.

FTA requires that employees who have been removed from the random testing pool and have been out of work for 90 or more days to have pre-employment tests upon return.


Reasonable suspicion and reasonable cause testing

Employers are required to send an employee for a drug or alcohol test (or both) if a trained supervisor or trained company official believes or suspects an employee is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

The supervisor or company official must have been trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use. Testing cannot be required based solely on a guess or hunch or complaint from another person, or phone call tip. The suspicion must be based on specific observations by the supervisor or company official concerning the employee’s current appearance, behavior, speech, and smell that are usually associated with drug or alcohol use.

The reasonable suspicion/reasonable cause observations of the supervisor or company official must be documented. Complete the Impaired Behavior Incident Report Form to ensure adequate documentation.

The employee must be taken to the testing facility by the supervisor or Designated Employer Representative (DER) – they should not be allowed to drive.

The D&A Consortium conducts federally-approved supervisor trainings on an annual basis. The training is free to D&A Consortium members. Supervisors are required by the law to be trained once, and then it is recommended that they attend trainings for refresher purposes a minimum of every two years.


Post-accident testing

You are required by the U.S. DOT to conduct drug and alcohol tests following qualifying accidents. The following tables indicate when testing must be performed:

Table for USCG

One or more fatalities

An injury to a crewmember, passenger, or other person which requires professional medical treatment beyond first aid, and, in the case of a person employed on board a vessel in commercial service, which renders the individual unfit to perform routine vessel duties

Property damage in excess of $100,000

Actual or constructive total loss of any inspected vessel

Actual or constructive total loss of any self-propelled uninspected vessel of 100 gross tons or more

A discharge of oil into a navigable water excess of 10,000 gallons

A release of a Hazardous Substance greater than or equal to its reportable quantity into a navigable water, whether from a casualty or not

Table for FMCSA

Type of accident involved…

Human fatality

Testing must be performed

Bodily injury with immediate medical treatment away from the scene

If a citation is also issued to the commercial motor vehicle driver, testing must be performed. (No testing is required if no citation is issued.)

Disabling damage to any motor vehicle requiring tow away

If a citation is also issued to the commercial motor vehicle driver, testing must be performed. (No testing is required if no citation is issued.)

Table for FTA

Type of accident involved

Test must be performed

Human fatality


Bodily injury with immediate medical treatment away from the scene


Disabling damage to any motor vehicle requiring tow away


*In non-fatal accidents, each covered employee operating the mass transit vehicle at the time of the accident should be drug/alcohol tested, unless the employer determines, using the best information available at the time of the decision, that the covered employee’s performance can be completely discounted as a contributing factor to the accident. Such decision must be documented in detail, including the decision-making process used to reach the decision not to test.

The following table summarizes post-accident time-frames and specimens that must be collected:

USCG – The post accident drug test, or serious marine incident driven drug test, need not be done within two (2) hours. Rather, the drug test must be conducted as soon as practicable but not more than 24 hours after the accident{reference 46 CFR 4.06-5, and 4.06-20}.

DOT agency

Specimen type

Time frame for collection


Urine for drug testing.

Up to 32 hours from time of event.


Breath for alcohol testing.

Within 2 hours, but cannot exceed
8 hours from time of event.

The supervisor at the scene of the accident/event should know the testing criteria and make a good faith effort decision to test or not test based on the information available at the time. The supervisor may consult with others, but the supervisor is the person who must make the decision. If the testing cannot happen within the required time, the supervisor must document the reasons.

Any employee required to be tested but needs medical assistance, must get the needed medical assistance first.


Return-to-duty and follow-up testing

When an employee tests positive, refuses a test, or violates other provisions of DOT agency testing regulations, that employee cannot work again in DOT safety-sensitive positions until successfully completing the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) return-to-duty requirements in Part 40.

After successfully completing the SAP requirements, the employee may be eligible to return to work. However, before an employer can return the person to work in a safety-sensitive job, a SAP must determine that the employee successfully complied with the recommended treatment and education. The employee must then have a return-to-duty test and the test result must be negative.

The SAP will also develop the employee’s follow-up testing plan – outlining for the employer the number and frequency of follow-up testing that will take place.

The D&A Consortium is able to assist the employer with the random selection process for follow-up testing. Should you opt for this service, you would receive notification when the employee is pulled for random drug and/or alcohol follow-up testing. Please contact the D&A Consortium if you would like to utilize this service for any follow-up testing. Otherwise, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the employee is tested according to the SAP’s follow-up plan.

Please note, these tests can be for drugs or alcohol or both. These follow-up tests must be unannounced to the employee, and the employer cannot let the employee know anything about your SAP’s plan for follow-up testing.

The SAP must direct at least six follow-up tests in the first 12-months after the person returns to their safety-sensitive duties. However, the SAP can direct more tests and may extend them for up to five years. These tests are in addition to any random test the individual may be required to submit and are not included in the random testing fees.

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