49 CFR 382: Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing

The function of 49 CFR 382 is to establish programs within trucking companies designed to prevent accidents and injuries resulting from impairment due to the use of alcohol or drugs by drivers of commercial motor vehicles. This part applies to all who drive a commercial motor vehicle in the United States and their employers including any employer who employs himself as a driver. There are a few exceptions, however. For example, some states have to waive from the requirements of part 382 for certain individuals including active duty personnel, members of the reserves, and members of the national guard on active duty. This part is subject to the CDL requirements of part 383, the federal requirements in Mexico and Canada.

49 CFR 382 also states that all employers of commercial motor vehicle drivers have to be certain that all alcohol or drug testing complies with the procedures indicated in part 40 of this title.

Drivers required to have a commercial driver’s license under part 383 must be tested if they drive a vehicle:

  • weighing more than 26,000 pounds including a towed unit weighing more than 10,000 pounds,
  • with a gross vehicle rating of more than 26,000 pounds,
  • designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, or
  • used to transport hazardous materials requiring the vehicle to be placarded.

49 CFR §382.107: DEFINITIONS

One notable part of 49 CFR §382.107 is the definition of safety-sensitive functions. A safety-sensitive function is being performed when:

  • any activity a driver is involved in while waiting to be dispatched,
  • a driver is servicing his vehicle or performing an inspection,
  • a driver is actually driving his vehicle,
  • a driver is in any way involved with loading or unloading the vehicle, or
  • a driver is repairing a vehicle or waiting by it for assistance.

The regulations in this part specify that alcohol or drugs must not be used while performing safety-sensitive functions. Alcohol must not be consumed within 4 hours of performing a safety-sensitive function.

49 CFR §382.201-382.211: PROHIBITED CONDUCT

A driver will no longer be allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle if he engages in prohibited conduct. Prohibited conduct includes:

  • reporting for duty if he has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater,
  • possessing alcohol unless it is part of a shipment, including medications like cough syrup or cold medicine that contain alcohol,
  • consuming alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions,
  • consuming alcohol within 8 hours proceeding an accident or until after being tested,
  • reporting for duty while using any drug that affects his ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, or
  • refusing to submit to any DOT mandated alcohol or drug test. Testing methods include breath and saliva testing, blood testing, and urine testing.

Although background checks involving a driver’s history of drug and alcohol use can only be obtained with the signature of the driver, any employer can make signing that authorization a condition of employment.

49 CFR §382.301-382.309: WHEN DRIVERS MUST BE TESTED

If a driver refuses to take a required drug or alcohol test he will be disciplined as if he tested positive. Commercial drivers must be tested before they are employed, although there are a few exceptions to this. Drivers may also be tested at random, as all employers are required to have a random selection program to test drivers for signs of drug and alcohol use. After an accident that produces a fatality, a driver is the recipient of a moving violation in a DOT-recordable accident, or there is reasonable suspicion to believe a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, testing may be required. An accident is DOT-recordable if an injured person requires immediate medical treatment away from the scene or if any vehicles involved have to be towed. If it is confirmed that a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater he must be evaluated by a substance abuse professional and take another test with a result below .02 in order to return to work, and could be subject to follow-up testing for up to five years. If a test is required but for some reason not administered, the employer has to make a record of why the test was not properly administered.


As a condition of employment, a driver is required to provide any new company he works for with a written authorization for all employers within the previous two years to release all drug and alcohol testing records. Within 14 days of performing a safety-sensitive function, DOT regulations require that the driver’s company obtain drug and alcohol testing records from the driver’s previous employers for up to two years in order to verify that no prior employer of the driver holds records indicating a violation of any DOT rule pertaining to drug or alcohol use.

If a driver tests positive for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol he has the option of requesting a medical review officer to have half of the sample tested by a different certified lab than the one that tested the primary specimen. This is typically done within 72 hours of a driver being notified of a positive test result.

Click here to view the text of 49 CFR 382 in its entirety.

Contact us at 800-628-4500 for a free consultation

Or contact us online. All information is kept confidential. We will not accept a case in a state where we’re not ethically permitted under the circumstances.

For Lawyers

Your truck accident case may be larger than you think. Our experience often enables us to maximize awards, well beyond what the co-counsel originally expected. Michael Leizerman’s book Litigating Truck Accident Cases, published by West Publishing, is considered the definitive work on handling truck accident cases. Contact us if you are seeking co-counsel on your case.

Avvo Rating - 10
Super Lawyers
Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating
Thomson West Author
National Board of Trial Advocacy
As seen on CNBC
As seen on CBS
As seen on ABC