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Legal Issues Pertaining to Sweeping

Legal Issues Pertaining to Sweeping

DOT Drug Testing Requirements

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Thanks to Roger Kraft, Washington State Director of the DOT Office of Motor Carriers, for the information for this update on changes in requirements for drug and alcohol testing for commercial drivers.

The final phase of the 1991 Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act settles into place on January 1st of 1996. Under the national mandate, even owner/operators of just one sweeper (or any other truck) of over 26,001 lbs will be required to become part of a national drug and alcohol testing procedure. Some states also have the same requirements even for smaller capacity trucks.

A synopsis is that if you are a single operator you will be required to join in a 'consortium' of others who must be randomly tested under the law. A list of such area groups should be available from your state's Trucking Association. You may also contact the US DOT Office of Motor Carriers in your state; these are usually located in the state capitol. Cost for these services will vary, since they are operated privately. The penalty for being caught out of the testing program can run in the area of several thousand dollars as a first offense.

In addition to random testing of 50% of drivers for drugs and 25% for alcohol per year, both a drug and an alcohol test is required if an accident involves a fatality. Testing is also required if drivers receive a driving citation when they are in an accident where either their vehicle is towed or where someone in the accident requires medical attention away from the scene. A citation within 8 hours in either of those situations requires both a drug and an alcohol test, and a ticket within 32 hours of such an accident mandates a drug test. Be advised that the responding officers probably will not advise drivers to get a test. It is something operators are supposed to know to do.

Although pre-employment screening is part of the new mandate, those already on the job, including owner/operators, won't need to all be tested in January. If a driver from another company is hired, however, and can't supply accredited paperwork from their previous employer or consortium to confirm that they have been part of a testing program, then pre-employment testing must take place.

For more information, specifics on your situation, or the number of your local Motor Carrier office, call the toll free Federal Motor Carriers information line, 1-800-832-5660.

This article is reprinted from American Sweeper magazine, v4n2.

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