Citizens and attorneys advocating for change through education, awareness, and legislation.

Legislative Initiatives

Alcohol and Substance Abuse

A commercial truck driver is in violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations when his or her Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) is greater than .04. Drivers testing at this level are not permitted to perform “safety-sensitive functions,” which include driving, for at least 24 hours. Drivers are also tested for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and PCP.

FMCSA reviewed the results of tests performed in 2008 of 443,340 truck drivers for random drug testing and 117,132 for random alcohol testing. Of that number, 1.04 percent of drivers were under the influence of drugs and 0.19 percent were under the influence of alcohol. Currently, the FMCSA requires carriers to randomly test 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50 percent of their CDL drivers for drugs each year. In addition, FMCSA requires carriers to perform drug and alcohol testing (nonrandom) on CDL drivers whenever:

  • The driver is being considered for employment (only for drugs and only when the driver has not recently been in a drug and alcohol testing program)
  • The driver has been involved in a crash (only when the crash involves a fatality, or when the driver receives a citation in a towaway- or injury-related crash)
  • The driver is suspected by a supervisor of using drugs or alcohol while at work

Full results from the survey may be found on the FMCSA website.

Improvements to Drug Testing Programs Could Better Identify Illegal Drug Users and Keep Them Off the Road

On May 15, 2008, the General Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report recommending improvements in the enforcement of drug and alcohol safety rules regulating the trucking industry. The GAO notes that this is an important issue of public safety: previous studies have found that driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both can increase the risk of truck crashes anywhere from two- to six-fold.

Some key findings of the GAO study are: 1) some carriers have no drug testing program at all; 2) drug users may avoid detection by “adulterating or substituting their urine specimens with products that are widely available and marketed as allowing drivers to ‘beat’ the test;” and 3) drivers who test positive may continue to drive by changing trucking companies. The GAO concluded that the FMCSA is able to conduct, on average, only 13,000 compliance reviews annually even though there are over 700,000 carriers registered with the Department of Transportation.

The GAO’s report calls for the Secretary of Transportation to expedite improving safety audits and to implement a national database of drug testing information. The GAO also suggests that Congress consider (1) adopting legislation to ban substances that can be used to falsify drug testing, (2) providing FMCSA with additional authority over entities involved in the drug testing process, and (3) encouraging or requiring states to suspend commercial driver’s licenses of drivers who fail or refuse to take a drug test.

View a PDF of the full report.