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Drug & Alcohol Program

Motor carriers whose drivers are required to have CDLs must have a drug and alcohol testing program.

Motor carriers operating vehicles requiring a CDL must test drivers for illegal substances and alcohol levels at various points of employment:

  • Before they are hired (pre-employment screening)
  • After an accident
  • When there is reasonable suspicion
  • At return to duty after a controlled substances or alcohol violation
  • Through a random testing process either by implementing a random program or joining a consortium. Motor carriers with one driver must join a consortium.


Employers are required to keep detailed records of their alcohol misuse prevention programs and store them in a secured location for the amount of time defined in FMCSR Section 382.401, Records Retention. Motor carriers may self-administer their programs (if they are not owner-operators) or contract it out, such as to a consortium that provides drug-testing services to many carriers. Owner-operators cannot self-administer their programs, and must enroll in a consortium. Guidance for setting up a program for non-owner-operator carriers can be found in FMCSA's Overview of Drug and Alcohol Rules.


When hiring drivers, employers are required to conduct a query of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) to check that the driver is not prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, including operating a CMV, due to a drug and alcohol program violation. If an employer becomes aware of a drug and alcohol program violation incurred by one of their employees, the employer must report the violation in the Clearinghouse; violations include positive drug or alcohol test results, refusal to take an alcohol or drug test, or actual knowledge of a violation. Owner-operators must select a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) and designate their C/TPA in the Clearinghouse, as C/TPAs are required to report any violations incurred by the owner-operator. Learn more about the Clearinghouse in the Clearinghouse Learning Center.


For the purposes of a Safety Audit, the motor carrier is required to provide documentation showing that pre-employment tests are administered, that the carrier has a random testing procedure that aligns with the regulations (either entered into with a consortium or conducted by the carrier), and a list of all of the drivers entered into the random testing program. The motor carrier must also be registered in the Clearinghouse, and the employer or their designated C/TPA must have performed all required queries and reported any drug and alcohol program violation. If an owner-operator, they must have a designated a C/TPA in the Clearinghouse. Note that working with a C/TPA to help perform random selections does not meet this requirement; the owner-operator would still need to designate that C/TPA, or another C/TPA, in the Clearinghouse.


  • Motor carriers that do not operate vehicles requiring a CDL
  • Motor carriers subject to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) alcohol and controlled substance testing program
  • Employers and drivers that include: active duty military personnel; members of the reserves; members of the national guard on active duty (including personnel on full-time national guard duty, part-time national guard training, and national guard military technicians), and active duty U.S. Coast Guard personnel
  • Farm vehicle drivers when the vehicle is:
    • Controlled and operated by a farmer as a private motor carrier of property
    • Being used to transport agricultural products or farm machinery and/or supplies to or from a farm
    • Not being used in the operation of a for-hire carrier
    • Not carrying placardable HM
    • Being used within 150 air miles of the farm
  • Firefighters or other persons who operate commercial motor vehicles that are necessary for the preservation of life or property or the execution of emergency governmental functions, are equipped with audible and visual signals, and are not subject to normal traffic regulations
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590 • 1-800-832-5660 • TTY: 1-800-877-8339 • Field Office Contacts