Refusal to Test on the Rise for FMCSA Drivers in 2020

dot drug testing keeps our roadways safe


In 2020, American Substance Abuse Professionals, Inc. (ASAP) has seen a dramatic shift in the landscape of drug and alcohol testing violations for Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with an increase of 40% in violations. The first quarter of the year saw a significant increase as the FMCSA Clearinghouse kicked off, the second quarter saw a significant slump as random testing was down due to disruptions in the drug and alcohol testing chain because of the pandemic national emergency, then the year ended with a steady increase. However, the most intriguing statistic is the significant increase in the refusal to test at 60% for pre-employment and 44% for random.

Employee Consequences of Refusal to Test

A refusal to test has the same consequences of failing a drug test. The employee is immediately removed from safety-sensitive duty and then must go through the DOT return to duty process. The return to duty process requires the employee to meet with a qualified DOT Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for an evaluation, successfully comply with the recommendations from the SAP, and then return for a final evaluation with the same SAP. Once the process is completed, the employee is still required to pass a DOT return to duty drug test before returning to safety-sensitive duty.

Employer Responsibility

When an employee or potential employee has a refusal to test or failed drug/alcohol test, it is the employer’s responsibility to supply the employee with a list of local qualified DOT SAPs. This is a requirement for the employer to stay compliant under DOT 49 CFR 40.287. Best practice recommends that a list constitutes more than one qualified local DOT SAP, which can be as few as two, but must contain names, addresses, and phone numbers. The employer cannot charge a fee for this list and may provide it themselves or through a C/TPA or other service agent, such as ASAP.

Maintaining safety on our highways is a prime responsibility for DOT FMCSA employers and employees. As an employer, a drug-free workplace increases productivity and decreases liability. For commercial drivers, maintaining a drug-free lifestyle increases safety on our highways. FMCSA CDL drivers and other safety sensitive employees are critical to our national transportation logistics and understanding essential information about DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations helps to keep our roads and drivers safe.

American Substance Abuse Professionals, Inc.® (ASAP) offers Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and substance abuse evaluation services to all employers with drug use employment policies and specializing in companies regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). ASAP services protect public and workplace safety while promoting treatment and recovery. Our success rate in returning employees back to work drug-free is 86%. Work safely. Visit for more information.

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