Understanding Post-Accident Testing Procedures for Trucking Companies

As a carrier, you hope that you will never come across a situation where you driver has been in an accident. Nevertheless, it is important to be prepared should that unfortunate situation ever arise.

While there are probably many concerns that you will have in the event an accident ever does occur, one concern that does need to be prioritized is whether your driver will require a post-accident drug and alcohol screening.

When is a DOT Test Required?

According to FMCSA and DOT laws and regulations, drivers are required to submit to post-accident testing when any of the following occur:

  • There was a human fatality
  • Someone involved in the accident required immediate medical treatment away from the scene AND the driver was issued a citation
  • One or more of the vehicles involved in the accident required a tow away AND the driver was issued a citation

These are the only instances that will require a drug and / or alcohol test to be administered under FMCSA and DOT law. If your company has a separate drug and alcohol policy in place, you may want to refer to that policy to see if there is any other criteria as well.

How Soon Does a Driver Have to go in for Testing?

Federal regulations stipulate that drivers involved in a qualifying accident must take a DOT-certified alcohol test within two hours of the accident, and DOT-certified drug test within 32 hours. Being involved in an accident can take a lot of time, depending on the nature of the accident. In light of this, if a driver is unable to leave the scene of the accident to complete the alcohol test within the two hour time limit, you must fully document the reason that the test was not completed within two hours. The documentation must cover every two-hour timeframe that passes without the driver being administered an alcohol test, up to 8 hours, at which point an alcohol test would be ineffective.

Even if the driver is given a breathalyzer or other form of alcohol test by an officer at the scene of the accident, he / she will still have to submit to a DOT-certified test. An officer’s alcohol screening does not cover or replace the DOT-certified alcohol test that must be administered. The DOT has specific drug and alcohol testing procedures that must be adhered to, above and beyond whatever testing a responding officer may deem necessary.

The process is the same for drug testing. If a driver is unable to complete the mandated drug test within the 32 hour time frame, it is the employer’s responsibility to document the reasoning as to why the test could not be administered. After the initial 32 hour limit has passed, a DOT drug test would be invalidated.

Hopefully, with safe operation of the motor vehicle at all times, this sort of thing won’t be an issue for your company. However, in the event of an accident, failure to follow the FMCSA regulations can result in serious financial consequences for your company. Therefore, it is critical that you follow the regulations carefully and to keep clear records of all your drug and alcohol testing procedures.

If you have any questions, or need assistance, give us a call at 877-405-5003.