FMCSA random drug test rate will remain at 25% in 2017

Dec. 14, 2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that the controlled substances random testing rate for regulated motor carriers will remain at 25% for calendar year 2017. 

FMCSA regulations require that truck and bus companies that employ commercial driver’s licensed (CDL) drivers conduct random drug and alcohol tests upon these individuals at a nationally prescribed percentage, which is informed by the results of an annual survey.

“For the safety of everyone traveling on our highways and roads, no driver should ever get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” said FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling.  “Commercial motor vehicle companies must comply with the crucial safety responsibility of conducting rigorous drug and alcohol testing programs for all of their CDL drivers.”

For calendar year 2016, FMCSA lowered the minimum annual drug testing rate from 50% to 25% following three consecutive calendar years (2011, 2012, 2013) of drug testing data received in the Management Information System (MIS) survey, which indicated that the positive rate for controlled substances was less than one percent. FMCSA conducts the MIS survey to ensure compliance with the set testing rates.

According to federal regulations, when the data received in the MIS for two consecutive calendar years indicates that the positive rate for controlled substances is less than one percent, the FMCSA administrator has the discretion to lower the annual testing rate to a minimum of 25% of a carrier’s driver positions. If, however, at any time the positive rate for controlled substances exceeds one percent, the testing rate will automatically revert upward to 50%.

FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey measures the percentage of CDL drivers who test positive for drugs and/or alcohol, as a result of random and non-random (ie, pre-employment, post-crash, and reasonable suspicion/follow-up) testing. In 2014, FMCSA required carriers to randomly test 50% of their CDL drivers for drugs and 10% of their CDL drivers for alcohol.

According to the survey, for random drug and alcohol testing conducted in 2014 (the most recent data available):

• The estimated positive usage rate for drugs in 2014 was 0.9%.  For 2012 and 2013, the estimated positive usage rate for drugs was estimated to be 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively.

• The estimated violation rate for alcohol usage (the percentage of drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 or higher) in 2014 was 0.08%. For 2012 and 2013, the alcohol usage violation rates were 0.03% and 0.09%, respectively.

Click on the following link to view FMCSA’s “Results from the 2014 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey” Analysis Brief:

To verify the current random testing rates of FMCSA and other agencies within the Department of Transportation, please visit the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance’s website at