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FMCSA: Drivers Who Drug-Test Positive Will Lose CDLs

Helen Adams

Federal trucking regulators have issued a stern warning, effective November 18, 2024, indicating severe consequences for truck drivers testing positive for drug use: positive will lose CDLs.

Table of Contents
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  • What is a FMCSA drug test?
  • Clearinghouse Rules: No Drugs, No Driving
  • Clearinghouse’s Impact: Positive Tests and Lingering Concerns

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these drivers will not only face prohibited driving status but will also lose their commercial driver licenses (CDLs) and be denied learning permits until they complete the federal return-to-work process.

What is a FMCSA drug test?

According to the FMCSA regulations on controlled substances, you must perform laboratory testing at an FMCSA testing center on urine samples to detect the presence of five specific controlled substances. The identification of either the controlled substance or its metabolite in the urine suggests recent usage of the controlled substance. Once the testing is complete, individuals can inquire about their FMCSA drug test results to ensure compliance with the regulations.

Clearinghouse Rules: No Drugs, No Driving

FMCSA’s recent notice reinforces that drivers with a drug violation cannot perform safety-sensitive tasks, impacting their commercial driving privileges as part of new federal regulations. 

Despite the FMCSA’s final rule in October 2021, a recent reminder alerts drivers that a positive FMCSA drug test prompts state action, keeping licenses prohibited until completing the return-to-duty process.

The latest federal rule focuses on increasing compliance with CMV driving prohibitions, requiring employers to provide drivers with DOT-qualified substance abuse professionals for education and treatment.

To stay ‘not prohibited,’ employers must follow Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)-specified follow-up testing plans, ensuring safety with a minimum of six unannounced tests in the first year post return-to-work.

Clearinghouse’s Impact: Positive Tests and Lingering Concerns

Since January 2020, 224,000 positive drug and alcohol tests, mostly related to marijuana, have been recorded. Concerns persist about drivers staying prohibited after failed tests. A recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute highlights the unique problem of marijuana use among truck drivers, leading to failed drug tests and difficulties returning to work.

FMCSA believes its drug and alcohol program is enhancing safety by holding drivers accountable for violations, citing a significant increase in new CDL driver records as a positive sign for the industry.