Commercial drivers certainly are not allowed to be under the influence of drugs while operating a vehicle. The same goes for alcohol. Drivers are expected to be sober and safe whenever they drive, especially because they are often driving oversized vehicles, such as 80,000-pound semi-trucks.
That being said, drug testing can be seen as a somewhat invasive process. It’s not something that happens to truck drivers every day or even frequently. But the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set up drug testing regulations. They specify when a driver can be tested.
Four specific times
It is worth noting that, after an accident, the police can certainly conduct their own drug test that is outside of the FMCSA regulations. But employers are allowed to do this in these four situations:
- If there is reasonable suspicion of drug use
- After a vehicle accident
- As a condition of employment
- When a driver is coming back after a drug policy violation
Often, employers are going to look for drugs like cocaine, marijuana, opiates or amphetamines. These can often stay in a person’s system for a long time, so they could still fail a test days or even weeks after use.
However, as noted above, if there has already been a traffic stop or an accident – even if it’s a single-car accident – then the police may already have reasonable suspicion to conduct a drug test. When drivers find themselves facing serious questions about drug use, or even allegations that they’ve broken the law, it’s crucial for them to know what legal options they have. Their entire career could hang in the balance.