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By the end of next year, truck drivers who test positive for drug use will remain in a "prohibited" status and will lose their commercial driving licenses.

On November 28, a statement was issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), stating that a driver with a violation of the drug and alcohol program is prohibited from performing safety-related functions, including operating commercial motor vehicles regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), until the return-to-duty process is completed.

The FMCSA established that, as part of the new federal regulations, by November 18, 2024, drivers with a “prohibited” status in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will lose or be denied their state-issued commercial driving licenses.

To maintain a “not prohibited” status, the employer must implement the follow-up testing plan specified by the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), which must include a minimum of six unannounced follow-up tests during the first 12 months after returning to perform safety-related functions, as stated by the FMCSA. In the case of independent operators, their consortium or designated third-party administrator will be responsible for carrying out the follow-up testing plan.

The outcome

The Information Exchange Center is achieving its goal of removing drivers caught using drugs from the roads, according to the FMCSA. However, there is a persistent concern that a significant number of drivers remain in a prohibited state for driving after failing their drug tests, suggesting that many have chosen to leave the profession instead of enrolling in the return-to-duty program.

Since the Information Exchange Center kicked off in January 2020, there have been 224,000 positive results in drug and alcohol tests, mostly due to marijuana use. As of the end of September, 149,374 drivers were still in a prohibited status, and 113,639 had not yet initiated the return-to-work process.

The FMCSA stated that it does not yet have its own investigations explaining the situation. The final rule aims to contribute to keeping drivers unsafe off the road by increasing compliance with the prohibition on driving commercial vehicles.


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