On December 27, 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced an increase in the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing for drivers of commercial motor vehicles requiring a CDL.
FMCSA increased the current testing rate of 25 percent of the average number of CDL driver positions to 50 percent of the average number of driver positions. This new random testing rate is effective January 1, 2020 and will apply to the full 2020 calendar year (and to calendar year 2021, too, as explained below).
This change, which was unexpected, is a result of a little-known rule requiring the Agency to increase the random testing rate if the percentage of positive random drug tests (i.e., the violation rate) for the entire industry is equal to or greater than 1 percent in any given calendar year. The positive percentage (violation rate) for random drug tests of CDL holders in calendar year 2018 was determined by FMCSA to be right at 1 percent, triggering the rule requiring FMCSA to increase the random drug testing rate from 25 percent to 50 percent of CDL drivers.
Motor carriers should also be aware that the new 50 percent random drug testing rate will also apply in the calendar year 2021 due to another obscure rule. That rule, found at 49 CFR 382.305(g), allows FMCSA to lower the 50 percent testing rate to 25 percent only if the industry’s random testing violation rate is less than 1 percent for two consecutive calendar years. This is a high bar, and it means that the earliest FMCSA could possibly trigger a reduction back to 25 percent is the calendar year 2022 (based on 2019 and 2020 data, collected and analyzed by the Agency in 2020 and 2021).
An important added note: FMCSA did not alter the random alcohol testing rate for 2020 and, as such, it remains at 10 percent.
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