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DOT Lowers Random Drug Testing Rate to 25 percent for 2016

    Client Alerts
  • January 04, 2016
Last month, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it is reducing the minimum percentage of annual random drug tests for commercial motor vehicle drivers from 50 percent to 25 percent. This change results from a provision in the DOT drug testing rules that gives FMCSA the discretion to lower the testing numbers if the percentage of positive tests reported by motor carriers remains less than one percent for two consecutive years.

While the percentage of positive random tests fell below one percent in 2011, DOT declined to reduce the required testing rate. However, the most recent 2013 data continued this trend, prompting FMCSA to agree to halve the required testing minimum to 25 percent for 2016. DOT stated that if the reported positive percentages again exceed one percent, the random testing requirement will revert to 50 percent.

These figures track those of other reports demonstrating that the general numbers of employees and applicants reporting positive drug testing results continues to decline in the U.S. These statistics have caused some employers to question the cost effectiveness of their current controlled substance testing programs, and some have reduced or entirely eliminated their use of non-DOT random tests. The new DOT 25 percent testing requirement is a minimum, and employers may continue to randomly test drivers at higher percentages if they so choose. The DOT announcement does not affect the current requirement for random testing 10 percent of drivers annually for alcohol use.