Call us if you have any questions: 866.755.9980

Navigating the Path After a Positive Drug Screen

February 22nd, 2024

CDL Drivers and The Federal Clearinghouse

The rules and responsibilities that govern commercial drivers are stringent for good reason. CDL drivers operating commercial vehicles requires impeccable concentration and unfaltering skill—impaired judgement or delayed reactions due to substance abuse have no place in this industry. As part of this robust framework of safety, commercial drivers must frequently undergo drug and alcohol screening tests. Should a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) driver test positive in a drug screen, it’s not a shut door, but a detour down a remedial path to ensure safety and compliance with federal regulations.

The immediate fallout of a positive drug test according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations is the cessation of safety-sensitive functions that the driver was performing. The paramount concern here is to protect the public from potentially impaired and therefore unsafe, driving.

CDL DriversThe results must then be reported to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a federal database that contains all violations of the FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program. Once reported, the positive test result will remain on the driver’s Clearinghouse record for five years, or until the “return-to-duty” (RTD) process is completed.

The next significant gate in this highway to rehabilitation is a formal assessment with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). It’s important to underline that this doesn’t bespeak addiction; it’s a necessary step for any driver to reinstated back to their professional capacities. The SAP’s task is to provide a qualified evaluation of the driver and recommend appropriate treatment, education, and following drug tests.

SAP Role

A face-to-face or snice COVID virtual evaluation is conducted by the SAP to identify what aid is necessary for the driver to overcome the substance misuse. Depending on the SAP’s professional judgment and the specifics of individual case, the driver could be advised to follow a course of inpatient therapy, outpatient counseling, education programs or ongoing participation in support groups.

While completing the treatment, the safety-sensitive duties of a driver stay strictly off-limits, although non-safety sensitive tasks could be performed if the employer permits.

Upon successful completion of the SAP-recommended program, the driver must return to the SAP for a follow-up evaluation. This assessment is meant to gauge the efficacy of the treatment and to decide if the driver is prepared for the “return-to-duty” (RTD) test.

Before they regain the wheel, they must clear a RTD test which proves their drug and/or alcohol free status. The driver will not be allowed to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) – that is, perform any safety-sensitive function – until a RTD test is passed.

But the full-stop to the driver’s obligation doesn’t come with the RTD test. There’s a further prevention measure set in place in the form of Follow-up Testing. The SAP provides a Follow-Up Testing Plan that details how long and how frequently the tested individual will need to undergo further drug tests. This follow-up testing period can extend anywhere between 12 and 60 months, as deemed appropriate by the SAP.

Lastly, the SAP must report the successful completion of the RTD process to the Clearinghouse for the record to be updated.

In conclusion, a positive drug screen launches a CDL driver onto a path designed with the intent of safeguarding the public and ensuring the driver is provided appropriate support to break free from substance misuse. This journey navigates through assessments, treatment plans, and the federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, before the driver can once again shoulder the responsibilities that come with operating large commercial vehicles. This comprehensive system serves as a stern yet constructive framework to enforce road safety, while also facilitating rehabilitation and readiness for CDL drivers.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial
Follow by Email
Verified by MonsterInsights