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Are Truck and Bus Drivers Subject to Pre-Employment Drug and Alcohol Testing?

Commercial truck and bus operators are assigned a difficult and sometimes nearly impossible task. They drive hundreds of though and of miles across states and the nation while dealing with the trials and travails of the open road. While we have a tendency to romanticize driving and the open road, the simple fact is that driving a large truck or bus is often a difficult, grueling task that takes every bit of concentration, focus, and experience that a driver can offer.  

Thus it is no surprise that the use of illegal drugs can impact a truck or bus driver’s ability to safely perform their job duties. While all medications, drugs and controlled substances have different impacts on the body and mind, a commercial driver should never set out on the road when he or she is impaired. One of the earliest opportunities to detect a driver who is likely to use impairing drugs while driving is during the pre-employment screening process.  Our commercial truck accident lawyers explain the various trucking safety issues due to drug use below.

Federal Regulations Set Forth Drug Testing Rules for Truckers

The general rules regarding the scope and applicability of pre-employment drug testing in the trucking and busing industry are set forth in FMCSA Regulation § 382. The rules were intended to “establish programs designed to help prevent accidents and injuries resulting from the misuse of alcohol or use of controlled substances by drivers of commercial motor vehicles.” Regardless of whether one drives a commercial truck or bus the pre-employment drug testing regime is generally applicable to holders of CDLs under Section 383 of FMCSA regulations and other covered Mexican or Canadian drivers. Furthermore, self-employed truck drivers are required to comply with both the employee and employer duties prescribed in the regulations.

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Are School Bus Drivers Tested After Coming Back From Summer Vacation? What About Truckers After a Long Vacation or Layoff Period?

While the pre-employment drug testing procedures are effective at detecting drug use in the early stage of employment, what happens when a worker is subjected to an extended rest period or lay-off? The archetypal example of a commercial driving role where the driver is off duty for an extended period of time is the school bus driver who does not drive during summer break. However, uneven demand for products can lead to any driver being idled for an extended period of time.

When a school bus driver comes back from summer break, this is not ordinarily considered a break in employment.  The applicability of pre-employment testing procedures will turn on whether he or she remained in the random drug testing selection pool. If so, he or she will not be subject to pre-employment testing. However, if the driver is removed from the pool, pre-employment testing will apply.

In the case of a truck driver who does not work for several months, the first determination to be made is whether the company terminated employment. If so and the employment was terminated for at least 30 days, pre-employment testing applies.  If the worker did not operate a commercial motor vehicle for an extended period but remained an employee of the company and part of the random testing pool, then pre-employment procedures will not apply.

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However, it is essential to note that even when pre-employment testing is inappropriate random testing, post-accident testing, reasonable suspicion testing, and return-to-duty drug testing can still apply.

Hurt by A Truck or Bus Driver Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol and In Need of a Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer?

While the federal drug testing regime for commercial drivers catches many dangerous drivers who would use drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel, no system is perfect. Unfortunately, not all trucking companies strictly comply with these rules. Furthermore, truck drivers who use drugs have the incentive to skirt the rules. They may use drugs that are not currently part of the federal drug testing regime or they may engage in other measures to conceal their impairment.

If you have suffered a serious accident due to a truck driver’s use of alcohol or drugs, the truck accident lawyers of Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call (215) 709-6940 today.

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