United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 01, 2024
Alcohol and controlled substances testing
In this section and section 31306a, “controlled substance” means any substance under section 102 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 802) specified by the Secretary of Transportation.
In the interest of commercial motor vehicle safety, the Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe regulations that establish a program requiring motor carriers to conduct preemployment, reasonable suspicion, random, and post-accident testing of operators of commercial motor vehicles for the use of a controlled substance in violation of law or a United States Government regulation and to conduct reasonable suspicion, random, and post-accident testing of such operators for the use of alcohol in violation of law or a United States Government regulation.
The regulations prescribed under subparagraph (A) shall permit motor carriers—
to conduct preemployment testing of commercial motor vehicle operators for the use of alcohol; and
to use hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing—
in conducting preemployment testing for the use of a controlled substance; and
in conducting random testing for the use of a controlled substance if the operator was subject to hair testing for preemployment testing.
When the Secretary of Transportation considers it appropriate in the interest of safety, the Secretary may prescribe regulations for conducting periodic recurring testing of operators of commercial motor vehicles for the use of alcohol or a controlled substance in violation of law or a Government regulation.
In prescribing regulations under this subsection, the Secretary of Transportation—
shall require that post-accident testing of an operator of a commercial motor vehicle be conducted when loss of human life occurs in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle;
may require that post-accident testing of such an operator be conducted when bodily injury or significant property damage occurs in any other serious accident involving a commercial motor vehicle; and
shall provide an exemption from hair testing for commercial motor vehicle operators with established religious beliefs that prohibit the cutting or removal of hair.
In carrying out subsection (b) of this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall develop requirements that shall—
promote, to the maximum extent practicable, individual privacy in the collection of specimens;
for laboratories and testing procedures for controlled substances, incorporate the Department of Health and Human Services scientific and technical guidelines dated
April 11, 1988, and any amendments to those guidelines, for urine testing, and technical guidelines for hair testing, including mandatory guidelines establishing—
comprehensive standards for every aspect of laboratory controlled substances testing and laboratory procedures to be applied in carrying out this section, including standards requiring the use of the best available technology to ensure the complete reliability and accuracy of controlled substances tests and strict procedures governing the chain of custody of specimens collected for controlled substances testing;
the minimum list of controlled substances for which individuals may be tested;
appropriate standards and procedures for periodic review of laboratories and criteria for certification and revocation of certification of laboratories to perform controlled substances testing in carrying out this section; and
laboratory protocols and cut-off levels for hair testing to detect the use of a controlled substance;
require that a laboratory involved in testing under this section have the capability and facility, at the laboratory, of performing screening and confirmation tests;
provide that any test indicating the use of alcohol or a controlled substance in violation of law or a Government regulation be confirmed by a scientifically recognized method of testing capable of providing quantitative information about alcohol or a controlled substance;
provide that each specimen be subdivided, secured, and labeled in the presence of the tested individual and that a part of the specimen be retained in a secure manner to prevent the possibility of tampering, so that if the individual’s confirmation test results are positive the individual has an opportunity to have the retained part tested by a 2d confirmation test done independently at another certified laboratory if the individual requests the 2d confirmation test not later than 3 days after being advised of the results of the first confirmation test;
ensure appropriate safeguards for testing to detect and quantify alcohol in breath and body fluid samples, including urine and blood, through the development of regulations that may be necessary and in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
provide for the confidentiality of test results and medical information (except information about alcohol or a controlled substance) of employees, except that this clause does not prevent the use of test results for the orderly imposition of appropriate sanctions under this section; and
ensure that employees are selected for tests by nondiscriminatory and impartial methods, so that no employee is harassed by being treated differently from other employees in similar circumstances.
The Secretary of Transportation may provide that testing under subsection (a) of this section for operators subject to subpart E of part 391 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, be conducted as part of the medical examination required under that subpart.
The Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe regulations establishing requirements for rehabilitation programs that provide for the identification and opportunity for treatment of operators of commercial motor vehicles who are found to have used alcohol or a controlled substance in violation of law or a Government regulation. The Secretary shall decide on the circumstances under which those operators shall be required to participate in a program. This section does not prevent a motor carrier from establishing a program under this section in cooperation with another motor carrier.
The Secretary of Transportation shall decide on appropriate sanctions for a commercial motor vehicle operator who is found, based on tests conducted and confirmed under this section, to have used alcohol or a controlled substance in violation of law or a Government regulation but who is not under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance as provided in this chapter.
A State or local government may not prescribe or continue in effect a law, regulation, standard, or order that is inconsistent with regulations prescribed under this section. However, a regulation prescribed under this section may not be construed to preempt a State criminal law that imposes sanctions for reckless conduct leading to loss of life, injury, or damage to property.
In prescribing regulations under this section, the Secretary of Transportation—
shall establish only requirements that are consistent with international obligations of the United States; and
shall consider applicable laws and regulations of foreign countries.
This section does not prevent the Secretary of Transportation from continuing in effect, amending, or further supplementing a regulation prescribed before
October 28, 1991, governing the use of alcohol or a controlled substance by commercial motor vehicle employees.
This section does not supersede a penalty applicable to an operator of a commercial motor vehicle under this chapter or another law.
cite as: 49 USC 31306