FMCSA Relaxing Random Drug Testing Requirements Due to COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On July 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a “Notice of Enforcement Discretion Determination” that stated the FMCSA “may exercise discretion to determine not to enforce the minimum annual percentage random testing rates for drugs and alcohol” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FMCSA – an administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) – may also not enforce the requirement that employers ensure the dates for administering random drug and alcohol tests are spread throughout the calendar year. However, employers capable of meeting these requirements must do so.

Motor carriers must select drivers at the required rate of 50 percent of their average number of driver positions for controlled substances, and 10 percent for random alcohol testing during 2020. If a test is unable to be completed due to COVID-19, they must maintain written documentation of the specific reasons for non-compliance.

In addition, the Notice stated that motor carriers who are unable to ensure that the dates for administering random controlled substances and alcohol tests are spread reasonably throughout the calendar year due to COVID-19 should document the specific reasons why they did not meet this requirement.

The FMCSA issued the Notice to assure employers unable to fully comply with requirements due to COVID-19 that the FMCSA will provide reasonable enforcement flexibility while also meeting their core safety mission. The Notice is not intended, and should not be perceived, as suspending the current random testing requirements.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of July 15, 2020, there are approximately 13.3 million global cases and 579,000 global deaths, while the United States leads the world with approximately 3.4 million cases and 136,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

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