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FMCSA survey reveals increase in failed random tests

Annual survey shows an increase in failed DOT tests in the year prior to COVID-19

Posted September 17, 2021 

An annual survey that captures the percentage of failed Part 382 tests showed an uptick in both positive drug and alcohol tests.

The “2019 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey” used data solicited from over 9,000 randomly selected motor carriers. Approximately 4,000 were responded, resulting in usable data from over 3,000 participants.

Drug usage rate

The positivity rate for drugs reflects the presence of the drugs identified in 40.85 within the cutoff levels prescribed in 40.87.

Positive random drug tests in 2019 were up 60 percent from 2018. The post-accident positive rate increased by 314 percent.

The following are drug usage rates based on test type:


2017 usage rate

2018 usage rate

2019 usage rate














Alcohol usage rate
A positive alcohol test is one based on a 0.04 cutoff level. The positive random alcohol testing rate jumped 400 percent from 2018 to 2019, while failed post-accident tests decreased by 75 percent.

The following are usage rates based on alcohol test type:


2017 usage rate

2018 usage rate

2019 usage rate









How is the data used?

The random drug and alcohol testing rates are increased or decreased, respectively, based on the percentage of failed FMCSA random tests reported during the survey.

The current random drug testing rate is 50 percent. To be lowered to 25 percent, the random drug usage rate must be less than 1.0 percent for two consecutive years. The previous two years are 1.0 percent (2018) and 1.6 percent (2019).

The current random alcohol testing rate is 10 percent. The rate is increased to 25 percent if the random alcohol usage rate is equal to or greater than 0.5 percent, but less than 1.0 percent.
If the alcohol testing rate is 25 percent or less, it is increased to 50 percent if the usage rate is equal to or greater than 1.0 percent. The random alcohol usage rate for 2019 is 0.3 percent. 

This article was written by Kathy Close of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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