Commercial Vehicle Motorists: Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion (382.307): Overview

The implications of reasonable suspicion testing are significant. It shows that a supervisory employee trained to recognize signs of alcohol or drug use was concerned enough to order the driver to undergo testing. This presents an expense to the employer, in the test itself, lost time and productivity, and administrative activities. Should the test be administered and found positive the motor carrier must make a written record of the observations which prompted the test, but there is no requirement that the record of the reason for the test, or the result, be placed in the DQ file. Discovery should be considered with this gap in record keeping requirements in mind.

Reasonable Suspicion Requirements

1. A motor carrier “shall” require a driver to undergo alcohol testing when the employer reasonably believes the driver has: a. Alcohol and alcohol concentration equal to or greater than .04 BAC or
b. Consumed alcohol on duty or
c. Consumed alcohol within four hours of coming on duty or
d. Consumed alcohol within eight hours of an accident without having already been tested.
2. The reasonable suspicion must be based on specific,
contemporaneous, articulatable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech or body odors of the drivers.
3. A motor carrier “shall” require testing for controlled
substances when the motor carrier has reasonable suspicion the driver has reported for duty or remained on duty “when the driver has used any controlled substance”, unless medically cleared to use the controlled substance by a licensed medical practitioner who has advised that the substance will not adversely affect safe vehicle operation. The observations needed to trigger controlled substance testing are identical to alcohol, but also include “indications of chronic and withdrawal affects of controlled substance”.
4. The decision to order the test “shall be made” by a supervisor or
company official trained in accord with 382.603.
5. Alcohol testing may only be triggered for observations occurring just before duty, while on duty, or just after “the period of work day when the driver is required to be in compliance”.
6. If triggered and the test is not performed within two hours, a document shall be created setting forth the reason why. If the test is not completed within eight hours, the motor carrier shall cease efforts to test and document the reason why the test was not performed.
7. Regardless of whether or not the test was administered, the
motor carrier cannot permit a driver to perform a safety-sensitive function until the alcohol test shows a BAC less than .02 or the twenty-four hours after the determination to perform a test has passed.
8. The motor carrier must make a written record of observations leading to alcohol/controlled substance testing, signed by the supervisor or company official who has made the determination. The record must be written within twenty-four hours of the observation, or before results of the alcohol/controlled substance test are released, whichever is earlier.

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