The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an entity that sets the rules and regulations for the trucking industry in the United States, issued a formal warning to give advanced notice of a rule change coming next year. Sometime in late 2024, the association will establish a rule in which any truck driver who tests positive in a drug test will lose their commercial driver’s license entirely. Currently, those who test positive are placed on a temporary prohibited driving status but still keep their license. Drivers also are presently required to complete the federal “return-to-work” process before they are issued learning permits. However, all of this will change with the new rules coming next year.
The changes are expected to be fully implemented by November 18, 2024.
The FMCSA released a statement saying, “A driver with a drug-and-alcohol program violation is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, including operating CMVs, for any DOT-regulated employer until the return-to-duty process is complete.” They followed it out with the verbiage laying out the rule change of losing commercial driving abilities.
This rule is actually not new; it was set into motion in October of 2021. The message from FMCSA that was issued just recently was a reminder to drivers that they have approximately a year left before the rule is set into official motion. Once the rule change goes into effect, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be forced to take action against drivers who do not pass the test in a far harsher way than they currently do.
Additionally, driver employers will be required to provide a list of substance abuse professionals who are DOT-qualified.
Drivers will not have to select one of the professionals presented to them in the list from their employer, they simply just have to be given the list. The driver can then do their own research if they wish and select their substance abuse professional. This professional will evaluate the driver to determine if they have rehabilitated enough to be retested for their commercial driver’s license.
From this point in the process, driver’s employers will have to fulfill follow-up testing per the requirements set by the individuals substance abuse professional. The plan is personalized based on the driver but must satisfy the requirement of having a minimum of six unannounced tests within the first 12 months of the driver driving again.