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Driver Safety Training Q&A

A CDL driver was selected for a random drug test on a day when he was not driving. The driver tested positive for alcohol. Is the driver required to undergo the "return to duty" process before performing safety-sensitive duties?
No. According to 49 CFR 382.305(m), "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." Therefore, the test is improper and should be canceled (for the record, the circumstances resulting in the cancellation should be documented). The driver does not have to complete the return-to-duty process.
Can we include non-CDL drivers who drive small vehicles in the same drug testing pool as CDL drivers?
No. An employer may not include non-CDL drivers in the DOT random resting pool, as this would violate the DOT drug and alcohol testing rules. On the other hand, an employer has the right to perform testing beyond that which is enforced by the DOT regulations, but that test should be represented separately from DOT testing.
Do part-time CDL drivers need to be in the DOT random drug testing pool?
Yes. All CDL drivers of commercial motor vehicles—whether they are full-time or part-time drivers—must be included in the DOT random pool.
What happens if someone fails one of the DOT required random drug tests?
If someone fails one of the DOT required random drug tests, this person must undergo the return-to-duty process. The employee must successfully complete this process before being considered for hire or re-recruitment. The process involves the assistance of a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), whose duties include: (1) conducting face-to-face clinical evaluations and treatment/education recommendations; (2) reporting to the employer with aforementioned evaluations and recommendations; (3) monitoring the employee’s progress during the recommended program; (4) scheduling a follow-up evaluation upon sufficient progress; and (5) reporting to the employer concerning the employee’s successful/unsuccessful compliance. The employee can only return to the safety-sensitive functions given a successful compliance report. Even with a successful compliance report, the employer is not obliged to again receive the employee. The employer is strictly required to remove an employee who has committed a violation (i.e. a positive test, or the refusal to be tested) from safety-sensitive functions. An employer who allows such an employee to continue performing safety-sensitive functions is subject to fines (up to $10,000/day).
Can an employer be sued for giving a "reasonable suspicion" drug/alcohol test to a sober employee?
Acting upon a "reasonable suspicion" shouldn’t be cause for friction between an employer and employee, especially if there is already a good working relationship between them. However, drug testing based on "reasonable suspicion" can be tricky and difficult given the fear of wrongly accusing an employee. To reduce the risk of lawsuits or labor grievance actions, be professional and cover your bases. Employers should stress that such a test is not an accusation or an attempt to diagnose substance abuse/addiction; instead, it is used in the process of elimination (to seek explanation for the employee’s disturbing behavior/appearance).
Do supervisors in charge of "reasonable suspicion testing" need to be trained in administering a field sobriety test?
No. In fact, by law, the supervisor who orders a reasonable suspicion test can’t be the same person who administers the test. The person who administers the test must be trained in accordance with the regulations documented in § 382.603.
Do supervisors in charge of "reasonable suspicion testing" need to be "drug recognition experts"?
No. It is not necessary or expected that the supervisor be familiar with a specific set of symptoms associated with each drug or drug category. The supervisor’s responsibility is basically to identify changes in employee behavior/appearance.

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Training Format Comparison Chart

Price DVD Kit
Online Training
In-Person Training
  • DVD cost effectively trains and retrains an unlimited amount of employees.
  • No trainer required, just pop in and play.
  • Video content keeps trainees engaged.
  • Very convenient, multiple employees don’t need to be pulled off the floor at once for a training session.
  • Includes both video content and an interactive quiz element to keep workers engaged.
  • More engaging than traditional training formats.
  • Can be customized to fit a companies specific work environment and equipment.
  • The only training option that can cover the "hands on" and "evaluation" portions of the training in addition to the "classroom" portion of the training.
  • Can be difficult to pull multiple workers off the floor at once to watch the video.
  • The DVD can get lost or scratched.
  • DVD can only train workers at a single location.
  • Due to the per person pricing format, it’s expensive for large companies that need to train hundreds or thousands of employees.
  • By far the most expensive training medium.
  • Administering refresher training as well as initial training for new employees can be a logistical nightmare.

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