DOT Drug and Alcohol Regulations

These are some of the most complicated regulations we face.

Two sections of the drug and alcohol regulations, 49 CFR Parts 40 and 382, were written to prevent accidents and injuries resulting from the misuse of controlled substances and alcohol by drivers of commercial vehicles. Part 382 says to use the definition for commercial motor vehicle found in Part 383.

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) means a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the motor vehicle…

(a) Has a gross combination weight rating of 11,794 kgs. or more (26,001 lbs. or more) inclusive of a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 4,536 kgs. (10,000 lbs.); or
(b) Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 11,794 or more kgs. (26,001 lbs. or more); or
(c) Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or
(d) Is of any size and is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous for the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and which require the motor vehicle to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR part 172, subpart F).

Part 40 discusses how to do collections and testing of the samples. Part 382 discusses how the drug and alcohol program applies to DOT employers and drivers. Many of the items that were inside 382 have been moved to Part 40, so be aware of both parts.

The NWSA DOT Compliance Manual has information on the drug and alcohol regulations under Tabs 5, 9, and 22.

Key Points to Remember
You must have a written program with all the elements outlined in 382.601, including a definition of “safety sensitive work.”

According to DOT, safety-sensitive function is all time from when a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time he/she is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work. Safety-sensitive functions include:

  1. All time at an employer or shipper plant, terminal, facility or other property, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by the employer;
  2. All time inspecting equipment as required by 392.7 and 392.8, or otherwise inspecting, servicing or conditioning any commercial motor vehicle at any time;
  3. All time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation;
  4. All time, other than driving time, in or upon any commercial motor vehicle except time spent resting in a sleeper berth (a berth conforming to the requirements of 393.76 of this subchapter);
  5. All time loading or unloading a vehicle, supervising or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate the vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded; and
  6. All time repairing, obtaining assistance or remaining in attendance upon a disabled vehicle.

You must give each driver a copy of the company written program and obtain a signed receipt.

You must train all persons designated to supervise drivers with at least one hour of training on alcohol misuse and at least an additional hour of training on controlled substances use. The training will be used by the supervisors to determine whether reasonable suspicion exists to require a driver to undergo testing under 382.307. Include physical, behavioral, speech and performance indicators of probable alcohol misuse and use of controlled substances in training. Recurrent training for supervisory personnel is not required.

Pre-employment testing for controlled substances is required for all CDL drivers. You may not use the driver until you have received a negative test result.

Traffic Bulletins Addressing Different Aspects of the Regulations can be found on the NWSA website—

Drug and Alcohol Policy (May 2001)
This bulletin outlines the 11 required elements that are supposed to be a company’s written drug and alcohol program. This bulletin is available online at

Previous Employer Alcohol and Drug Test Information (December 2001)
This bulletin outlines the employer’s requirement to check the previous two years of drug testing results done by the previous employers for any new driver that is hired. This bulletin is available online at

Drug and Alcohol Record Keeping (July 2002)
This bulletin outlines the record keeping and retention periods required for the different aspects of the drug and alcohol program. This bulletin is available online at

Post-accident drug and alcohol testing must be done within certain time frames following certain DOT accidents. The type of accidents that require testing are when any person involved in the accident dies; the driver receives a citation for a moving traffic violation and someone involved in the accident receives immediate medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; and the driver receives a citation for a moving traffic violation and any vehicle involved in the accident must be towed from the scene.

The driver must be tested for controlled substances within 32 hours of the accident and tested for alcohol within two hours of the accident. If the driver is not tested within these time frames, the employer must document the reasons why.

Previous employer drug and alcohol testing results must be obtained for new drivers who have been in a previous employer drug and alcohol-testing program. Receive and review this information before you use the driver in any safety sensitive work, but you may use the driver for up to 30 days before you obtain the information. The employer must have a documented good faith effort to obtain the results before you can use the driver beyond the 30-day period.

You must conduct random drug and alcohol testing of your CDL drivers at the respective annual rates of 50% and 10% of your total CDL driver pool.

You must conduct the testing evenly spaced across the year, and you must have documentation on file to prove the testing. Please note that the random selection must be done by a scientifically valid method. Drawing names out of a hat is not considered scientifically valid.

The drug and alcohol regulations are some of the most complicated regulations that our members face. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact me for help.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
Michael Dodd is GAWDA’s DOT consultant and president of MLD Safety Associates in Dripping Springs, Texas.