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  • § 382.103
  • § 382.107
  • § 382.109
    Preemption of State and local laws.
  • § 382.113
    Requirement for notice.
  • § 382.115
    Starting date for testing programs.
  • § 382.121
    Employee admission of alcohol and controlled substances use.
  • § 382.205
    On-duty use.
  • § 382.213
    Controlled substance use.
  • § 382.301
    Pre-employment testing.
  • § 382.303
    Post-accident testing.
  • § 382.305
    Random testing.
  • § 382.307
    Reasonable suspicion testing.
  • § 382.309
    Return-to-duty testing.
  • § 382.401
    Retention of records.
  • § 382.403
    Reporting of results in a management information system.
  • § 382.405
    Access to facilities and records.
  • § 382.413
    Inquiries for alcohol and controlled substances information from previous employers.
  • § 382.501
    Removal from safety-sensitive function.
  • § 382.503
    Required evaluation and testing.
  • § 382.507
  • § 382.601
    Employer obligation to promulgate a policy on the misuse of alcohol and use of controlled substances.
  • § 382.603
    Training for supervisors.
  • § 382.605
    Referral, evaluation, and treatment.

Part 382

Section § 382.305: Random testing.

Below are the available interpretations for the given section. To return to the list of parts, use the Parts link above. The menu to the left provides a full list of sections that have interpretations. To view interpretations for a different section, click on the menu item.

The regulations text of the section can be found on the eCFR website. To view the regulations text, use the link below. For assistance, please send an email to
View regulations for Part 382

Question 1: Is a driver who is on-duty, but has not been assigned a driving task, considered to be ready to perform a safety-sensitive function as defined in §382.107 subjecting the driver to random alcohol testing?

Guidance: A driver must be about to perform, or immediately available to perform, a safety-sensitive function to be considered subject to random alcohol testing. A supervisor, mechanic, or clerk, etc., who is on call to perform safety-sensitive functions may be tested at any time they are on call, ready to be dispatched while on-duty.

Question 2: What are the employer’s obligations, in terms of random testing, with regard to an employee who does not drive as part of the employee’s usual job functions, but who holds a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and may be called upon at any time, on an occasional or emergency basis, to drive?


Such an employee must be in a random testing pool at all times, like a full-time driver. A drug test must be administered each time the employee’s name is selected from the pool.

Alcohol testing, however, may only be conducted just before, during, or just after the performance of safety-sensitive functions. A safety-sensitive function as defined in §382.107 means any of those on-duty functions set forth in §395.2 On-Duty time, paragraphs (1) through (7), (generally, driving and related activities). If the employee’s name is selected, the employer must wait until the next time the employee is performing safety-sensitive functions, just before the employee is to perform a safety-sensitive function, or just after the employee has ceased performing such functions to administer the alcohol test. If a random selection period expires before the employee performs a safety-sensitive function, no alcohol test should be given, the employee’s name should be returned to the pool, and the number of employees subsequently selected should be adjusted accordingly to achieve the required rate.

Question 3: How should a random testing program be structured to account for the schedules of school bus or other drivers employed on a seasonal basis?


If no school bus drivers from an employer’s random testing pool are used to perform safety sensitive functions during the summer, the employer could choose to make random selections only during the school year. If the employer nevertheless chooses to make selections in the summer, tests may only be administered when the drivers return to duty.

If some drivers continue to perform safety-sensitive functions during the summer, such as driving buses for summer school, an employer could not choose to forego all random selections each summer. Such a practice would compromise the random, unannounced nature of the random testing program. The employer would test all selected drivers actually driving in the summer. With regard to testing drivers not driving during the summer, the employer has two options. One, names of drivers selected who are on summer vacation may be returned to the pool and another selection made. Two, the selected names could be held by the employer and, if the drivers return to perform safety-sensitive functions before the next random selection, the test administered upon the drivers’ return.

Finally, it should be noted that reductions in the number of drivers during summer vacations reduces the average number of driving positions over the course of the year, and thus the number of tests which must be administered to meet the minimum random testing rate.

Question 4: Are driver positions that are vacant for a testing cycle to be included in the determination of how many random tests must be conducted?

Guidance: No. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) random testing program tests employed or utilized drivers, not positions that are vacant.

Question 5: May an employer use the results of another program in which a driver participates to satisfy random testing requirements if the driver is used by the employer only occasionally?

Guidance: The rules establish an employer-based testing program. Employers remain responsible at all times for ensuring compliance with all of the rules, including random testing, for all drivers which they use, regardless of any utilization of third parties to administer parts of the program. Therefore, to use another’s program, an employer must make the other program, by contract, consortium agreement, or other arrangement, the employer’s own program. This would entail, among other things, being held responsible for the other program’s compliance, having records forwarded to the employer’s principal place of business on 2 days notice, and being notified of and acting upon positive test results.

Question 6: Once an employee is randomly tested during a calendar year, is his/her name removed from the pool of names for the calendar year?

Guidance: No, the names of those tested earlier in the year must be returned to the pool for each new selection. Each driver must be subject to an equal chance of being tested during each selection process.

Question 7: Is it permissible to make random selections by terminals?

Guidance: Yes. If random selection is done based on locations or terminals, a two-stage selection process must be utilized. The first selection would be made by the locations and the second selection would be of those employees at the location(s) selected. The selections must ensure that each employee in the pool has an equal chance of being selected and tested, no matter where the employee is located.

Question 8: When a driver works for two or more employers, in whose random pool must the driver be included?

Guidance: The driver must be in the pool of each employer for which the driver works.

Question 9: After what period of time may an employer remove a casual driver from a random pool?

Guidance: An employer may remove a casual driver, who is not used by the employer, from its random pool when it no longer expects the driver to be used.

Question 10: If an employee is off work due to temporary lay-off, illness, injury or vacation, should that individual’s name be removed from the random pool?

Guidance: No. The individual’s name should not be removed from the random pool so long as there is a reasonable expectation of the employee’s return.

Question 11: Is it necessary for an owner-operator, who is not leased to a motor carrier, to belong to a consortium for random testing purposes?

Guidance: Yes.

Question 12: If an employer joins a consortium, and the consortium is randomly testing at the appropriate rates, will these rates meet the requirements of the alcohol and controlled substances testing for the employer even though the required percent of the employer’s drivers were not randomly tested?

Guidance: Yes.

Question 13: Is it permissible to combine the drivers from the subsidiaries of a parent employer into one pool, with the parent employer acting as a consortium?

Guidance: Yes.

Question 14: How should an employer compute the number of random tests to be given to ensure that the appropriate testing rate is achieved given the fluctuations in driver populations and the high turnover rate of drivers?


An employer should take into account fluctuations by estimating the number of random tests needed to be performed over the course of the year. If the carrier’s driver workforce is expected to be relatively constant (i.e., the total number of driver positions is approximately the same) then the number of tests to be performed in any given year could be determined by multiplying the average number of driver positions by the testing rate.

If there are large fluctuations in the number of driver positions throughout the year without any clear indication of the average number of driver positions, the employer should make a reasonable estimate of the number of positions. After making the estimate, the employer should then be able to determine the number of tests necessary.

Question 15: May an employer or consortium include non-U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-covered employees in a random pool with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-covered employees?

Guidance: No.

Question 16: Canadians believe that their laws require employer actions be tied to the nature of the job and the associated safety risk. Canadian employers believe they will have to issue alcohol and drug testing policies that deal with all drivers in an identical manner, not just drivers that cross the border into the United States. If a motor carrier wanted to add cross border work to an intra-Canadian driver’s duties, and the driver was otherwise qualified under the FHWA rules, may the pre-employment test be waived?


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has long required, since the beginning of the drug testing program in 1988, that transferring from intrastate work into interstate work requires a "pre-employment" test regardless of what type of testing a State might have required under intrastate laws. This policy also applied to motor carriers that had a pre-employment testing program similar to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirement. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) believes it is reasonable to apply this same interpretation to the first time a Canadian or Mexican driver enters the United States.

This policy was delineated in the Federal Register of February 15, 1994 (59 FR 7302, at 7322). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) believes motor carriers should separate drivers into intra-Canadian and inter-State groups for their policies and the random selection pools. If a driver in the intra-Canadian group (including the random selection pool) were to take on driving duties into the United States, the driver would be subject to a pre-employment test to take on this driving task. Although the circumstance is not actually a first employment with the motor carrier, such a test would be required because it would be the first time the driver would be subject to part 382.

Question 17: May an employer notify a driver of his/her selection for a random controlled substances test while the driver is in an off-duty status?


Yes. Part 382 does not prohibit an employer form notifying a driver of his/her selection for a random controlled substances test while the driver is in an off-duty status.

If an employer selects a driver for a random controlled substances test while the driver is in an off-duty status, and then chooses to notify the driver that he/she has been selected while the driver is still off-duty, the employer must ensure that the driver proceeds immediately to a collection site. Immediately, in this context, means that all the driver’s actions, after notification, lead to an immediate specimen collection. If the employer’s policy or practice is to notify drivers while they are in an off-duty status, the employer should make that policy clear to all drivers so that they are fully informed of their obligation to proceed immediately to a collection site.

If an employer does not want to notify the driver that he/she has been selected for a random controlled substances test while the driver is in an off-duty status, the employer could set aside the driver’s name for notification until the driver returns to work, as long as the driver returns to work before the next selection for random testing is made.

Employers should note that regardless of when a driver is notified, the time the driver spends traveling to and from the collection site, and all time associated with providing the specimen, must be recorded as on-duty time for purposes of compliance with the hours-of-service rules.

Question 18: Is it permissible to select alternates for the purpose of complying with the Random Testing regulations?

Guidance: Yes, it is permissible to select alternates. However, it is only permissible if the primary driver selected will not be available for testing during the selection period because of long-term absence due to layoff, illness, injury, vacation or other circumstances. In the event the initial driver selected is not available for testing, the employer and/or C/TPA must document the reason why an alternate driver was tested. The documentation must be maintained and readily available when requested by the Secretary of Transportation, any DOT agency, or any State or local officials with regulatory authority over the employer or any of its drivers.

Question 19: A motor carrier uses a consortium/third party administrator (C/TPA) to conduct its random selection of driver names. The C/TPA has many motor carriers in its random selection pool. The C/TPA has set up its random selection program to pick driver names and notifies the motor carrier whose driver the C/TPA has selected. The motor carrier notifies the C/TPA the driver is presently on long-term absence due to layoff, illness, injury, or vacation. The motor carrier also notifies the C/TPA it does not expect the driver to return to duty before the C/TPA’s next selection of driver names. The C/TPA then randomly orders and selects a driver’s name from the motor carrier that employs the driver who is unavailable rather than selecting the next name on the random selection list. Is this a scientifically valid and impartial method for selecting drivers for random testing in a motor carrier’s program?


This procedure is a scientifically valid method for selecting driver names. This method is similar to methods used by organizations, including the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, to randomly order, select, and substitute names for sampling with replacement of groups of individual and companies. This procedure has a small degree of theoretical bias for a simple random sampling selection procedure. The theoretical bias, though, is so minimal the FMCSA does not believe the agency should prohibit its use.

This method is useful for operational settings, such as FMCSA’s motor carrier random testing program. The method is less impartial toward drivers than other theoretical methods, but maintains a deterrent effect for both motor carriers and drivers. This method should deter motor carriers from claiming drivers are unavailable each time the C/TPA selects one of its drivers, there by never having its drivers subject to actual random tests.

In addition, employers and C/TPA’s should establish operational procedures that will ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the primary selections for random testing are tested. The operational procedures should include procedures that will ensure the random selection lists are updated in a timely manner. The updates will ensure that drivers who are no longer available to an employer will not be counted in the random selection lists. The operational procedures should also outline the measures for selecting alternates, including documenting the reasons for using an alternate.

Question 20: If an employer is subject to random testing for only a partial calendar year, how should the employer determine the number of random tests required during the year to achieve the appropriate testing rate? (Examples: new employers that begin operating midway through the calendar year; employers which merge or split midway through the calendar year; Canadian or Mexican carriers that begin U.S. operations midway through the calendar year.)

Guidance: The number of random tests required can be computed in the same manner as for any employer that has large fluctuations in the number of driver positions during the year. Use the formulas T = 50%x D/P for controlled substance testing and T = 10%x D/P for alcohol testing, where T is the number of tests required, D is the total number of drivers subject to testing, and P is the number of selection periods in a full calendar year. For any selection period during which the carrier was not subject to §382.305, simply enter a zero in the driver calculations. Example: A carrier starts operating in August and decides to test quarterly (P = 4). It has 16 drivers subject to testing in the third quarter and only 12 drivers subject to testing in the fourth quarter. D = 0 + 0 + 16 + 12 = 28. D/P = 28/4 = 7. T = 50%of 7, or 3.5, which must be rounded up to 4. The carrier must test 4 drivers for controlled substances between its first day of operation in August and the end of the year. Following the requirement to spread testing reasonably throughout the year, two drivers should be tested during the third quarter and two during the fourth quarter.

Question 21: If a driver has been notified of his/her selection of random drug and/or alcohol testing and the testing cannot be completed because of “unforeseeable obstacles” at the collection site (i.e. collection site closed, collector unavailable when driver shows up, emergency such as a fire, natural disaster, etc…), what is the carrier’s responsibility?

Guidance: In accordance with §382.305(i)(3) and §382.305(l), each driver selected for testing shall be tested during the selection period; and upon notification of selection for random alcohol and/or drug testing proceed to the collection site immediately. In instances of “unforeseeable obstacles” the driver shall immediately contact the employer’s DER for instructions to an alternative collection site. These “unforeseeable obstacles” do not negate the employer’s responsibility of ensuring that the required test be administered.

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