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Failed DOT alcohol tests trending up, FMCSA reports

2022 drug and alcohol testing survey results revealed

Posted May 3, 2024

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently released the results of its 2022 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey. One of the more notable trends reported by FMCSA: Failed alcohol tests have increased over the past three years.

The survey measures the percentage of drivers with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) who tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs during random and non-random testing. Refusals to test were included in the positive rates.

FMCSA uses the results of the survey to determine how many random drug and alcohol tests employers must complete within a calendar year. Any significant changes in the violation rate may result in raising or lowering the minimum annual percentage rates. Typically, decisions to change minimum random testing rates are announced in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year for the upcoming year.

Participants

The findings of this study are based on 2020, 2021, and 2022 survey responses. Positive usage rates represent weighted estimates, not true values, of the average CDL driver community. “Positive usage rates” refer to alcohol (testing at a concentration of 0.04 or higher) and any of the following five drugs: cocaine, marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).

Based on the 2022 results, 90 percent of motor carriers have random drug and alcohol testing programs in place and 73 percent of all CDL drivers participated in these programs.

Survey findings

Random testing survey data comes from 4,599 randomly selected motor carrier participants. This resulted in usable data from:

  • 3,284 carriers (1,186,375 CDL drivers) for random drug testing, and
  • 2,932 carriers (1,167,598 CDL drivers) for random alcohol testing.


Data was not used from entities that are out of business, exempt, have no testing program in place, or belong to consortia that did not test any of the carrier’s drivers in 2022.
 
Non-random testing survey respondents were lower than those for random drug testing survey respondents. Because of this, only pre-employment drug and post-crash drug testing are included in the survey findings.

Alcohol testing results — Usage rates:

 

2020 Usage Estimate

2021 Usage Estimate

2022 Usage Estimate

Random Alcohol Testing (.04 BAC or greater)

0.13%

0.12%

0.29%

Non-Random Alcohol Testing

0.03%

0.05%

0.17%

Drug testing results — Usage rates:

 

2020 Usage Estimate

2021 Usage Estimate

2022 Usage Estimate

Random Drug Testing

0.9%

1.2%

0.9%

Non-Random Pre-Employment Testing

1.1%

0.9%

1.3%

Non-Random Post-Crash Testing

2.1%

1.5%

1.7%

This article was written by Lucero Truszkowski of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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