Private Fleets

Owners of private fleets and their drivers are required to follow all the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations regarding drug and alcohol testing for holders of commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL). It’s critical to follow all rules, both to ensure public safety and avoid costly fines.

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Private Fleet Drug Testing Information

DOT (FMCSA) Drug Testing Regulations for Private Fleets

Drivers who hold a CDL are regulated under 49 CFR Part 382. In addition, employers of CDL drivers must have a drug and alcohol policy in place, ensure all drivers are aware of the drug and alcohol procedures and provide educational materials that explain the dangers of drug and alcohol use and the testing regulations.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

In early 2020, FMCSA launched a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This comprehensive online database contains a five-year history of all drivers with substance abuse violations on their records.

If a driver fails a drug or alcohol test, it’s required by law that the results be reported to the clearinghouse. Employers are also required to check the clearinghouse as part of their pre-employment screening and on an annual basis. This helps to ensure that only safe drivers are added to the fleet.

Drug Testing Frequency for Private Fleets

Unless they meet specific DOT exemptions, a professional driver with a commercial drivers’ license must take a CDL drug test at certain points throughout their career. The required frequency for drug testing is outlined in the federal motor carrier safety regulations and rules created by the DOT. This includes the following.

1. Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Before hiring a fleet driver, employers must require a negative drug test result. Drivers who are returning from a layoff of 30 days or longer must also re-submit to a drug test.

2. Random Drug Testing

DOT regulation 382.305 requires employers to drug test employees on a random basis. It also defines the minimum annual testing percentage. As of 2022, the required random drug testing rate is 50% while the random alcohol testing rate is 10%. Every full-time employee who holds a CDL and performs safety-sensitive functions must be placed in a random testing pool that creates an equal chance for each participant to be chosen.

3. Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing

FMCSA guidelines also require fleet owners to test any employee who they believe may be in violation of the drug and alcohol policy. In addition, it’s necessary to document the observations that created reasonable suspicion in the first place.

4. Post-Accident Drug Testing

CDL drivers who have been involved in certain types of accidents must also submit to a random drug test.

5. Return-to-Duty Drug Testing

A positive test result that has been reviewed by a licensed medical review officer (MRO) must be reported to the clearinghouse database. After this, the driver must follow a multi-step process before returning to duty. This includes passing an initial drug or alcohol test and submitting to random tests throughout the follow-up process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all trucking companies drug test?

Federal law requires all prospective truck drivers holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to pass a drug test before they can legally drive. This is true even if the driver works for a private motor carrier.

What kind of drug tests do private CDL drivers take?

DOT drug tests for private CDL drivers are the same as for all other CDL drivers. They are done using urine specimens and are analyzed for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and phencyclidine (PCP).

Do professional drivers take drug tests/background checks?

Every professional driver who holds a CDL and doesn’t meet an exception is required to follow all FMCSA and DOT guidelines regarding drug tests and background tests.

This Information Is Not Intended for Legal Purposes

The information provided on this page is intended for your own knowledge, and should not be used for legal matters. Please seek the advice of a legal expert regarding legal advice for drug testing laws in your state.


“FMCSA Drug Testing: How to Keep Your Fleet Compliant.” Samsara, 5 November 2021,
“What Employees Need To Know About DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing.” U.S. Department of Transportation,
“Title 49, Part 382 – Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing.” Code of Federal Regulations,
“The Motor Carrier Safety Planner – 6.5.1 Implementing a Drug and Alcohol Program.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),
“About the Clearinghouse.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),
“Exemptions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),
“Section § 382.305: Random testing.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),
“2022 DOT Random Testing Rates.” U.S. Department of Transportation,
“Drug & Alcohol Testing – “What tests are required and when does testing occur?” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),