Question 1: May a reasonable suspicion alcohol test be based upon any information or observations of alcohol use or possession, other than a supervisor’s actual knowledge?
Guidance: No. Information conveyed by third parties of a driver’s alcohol use may not be the only determining factor used to conduct a reasonable suspicion test. A reasonable suspicion test may only be conducted when a trained supervisor has observed specific, contemporaneous, articulable appearance, speech, body odor, or behavior indicators of alcohol use.
Question 2: Why does §382.307(b) allow an employer to use indicators of chronic and withdrawal effects of controlled substances in the observations to conduct a controlled substances reasonable suspicion test, but does not allow similar effects of alcohol use to be used for an alcohol reasonable suspicion test?
The use of controlled substances by drivers is strictly prohibited. Because controlled substances remain present in the body for a relatively long period, withdrawal effects may indicate that the driver has used drugs in violation of the regulations, and therefore must be given a reasonable suspicion drug test.
Alcohol is generally a legal substance. Only its use or presence in sufficient concentrations while operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) is a violation of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulation. Alcohol withdrawal effects, standing alone, do not, therefore, indicate that a driver has used alcohol in violation of the regulations, and would not constitute reasonable suspicion to believe so.
Question 3: A consignee, consignor, or other party is a motor carrier employer for purposes of 49 CFR parts 382 through 399. They have trained their supervisors in accordance with 49 CFR 382.603 to conduct reasonable suspicion training on their own drivers. A driver for another motor carrier employer delivers, picks up, or has some contact with the consignee’s, consignor’s, or other party’s trained supervisor. This supervisor believes there is reasonable suspicion, based on their training, that the driver may have used a controlled substance or alcohol in violation of the regulations. May this trained consignee, consignor, or other party’s supervisor order a reasonable suspicion test of a driver the supervisor does not supervise for the employing/using motor carrier employer?
No, the trained supervisor may not order a reasonable suspicion test of a driver the supervisor does not supervise for the employing/using motor carrier employer. Motor carrier employers may not conduct reasonable suspicion testing based "on reports of a third person who has made the observations, because of that person’s possible credibility problems or lack of appropriate training."
The trained supervisor for the consignee, consignor, or other party may, however, choose to do things not required by regulation, but encouraged by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). They may inform the driver that they believe the driver may have violated Federal, State, or local regulations and advise them not to perform additional safety-sensitive work. They may contact the employing/using motor carrier employer to alert them of their reasonable suspicion and request the employing/using motor carrier employer take appropriate action. In addition, they may contact the police to request appropriate action.
Guidance: No. The requirements of §§382.307 and §382.603 are not applicable to owner-operators in non-supervisory positions. §382.307 requires employers to have a driver submit to an alcohol and/or controlled substances test when the employer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver has violated the prohibitions of subpart B of part 382. Applying §382.307, Reasonable Suspicion Testing, to an owner-operator who is an employer and the only employee contradicts both “reason” and “suspicion” implicit in the title and the purpose of §382.307. A driver who has self-knowledge that he/she has violated the prohibitions of subpart B of part 382 is beyond mere suspicion. Furthermore, §382.603 requires “all persons designated to supervise drivers” to receive training that will enable him/her to determine whether reasonable suspicion exists to require a driver to undergo testing under §382.307. An owner-operator who does not hire or supervise other drivers is not in a supervisory position, no rare they subject to the testing requirements of §382.307. Therefore, such an owner-operator would not be subject to the training requirements of §382.603.