Drug and Alcohol Program Management & Recordkeeping

Managing a DOT drug and alcohol testing program involves many moving pieces. Learn how to prove your program is compliant.
J.J. Keller Editor Kathy Close

Kathy Close - DOT Editor - J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

March 18 , 2020

Managing a compliant DOT drug and alcohol testing program involves many moving pieces that often cross departments and locations. Additionally, the regulatory requirements are complex, and mismanagement can have significant implications on a fleet’s Controlled Substances/Alcohol CSA BASIC score.

To demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, a company must provide accurate and complete recordkeeping to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). During an investigation, a disorganized filing system will surely pique the interest of an auditor. Missing or incomplete recordkeeping can result in fines and penalties — even if the carrier did everything they were supposed to do. It is a matter of proving compliance.

Types of Records

Motor carriers that operate commercial motor vehicles (CMV) requiring a commercial driver’s license are subject to the FMCSA’s testing rules in 49 CFR Part 382.

A compliant FMCSA program requires testing under these specific circumstances:



Test Type

At time of hire or transfer into a safety-sensitive position Pre-employment
In the event a CMV crash meets specific criteria Post-accident
When a trained supervisor observes signs of drug and/or alcohol use Reasonable suspicion
Throughout the year if selected Random test
Following an evaluation and treatment as the result of a DOT testing violation Return-to-duty and follow-up


A motor carrier’s recordkeeping must include copies of the tests performed under Part 382.

Other program documents include:

  • The company’s DOT testing policy
  • Proof of supervisor’s reasonable suspicion training
  • Signed receipts that drivers received a copy of the company’s policy and educational materials
  • Records related to random selections (driver roster, names selected, completed tests, etc.)
  • Contracts with service providers (collection sites, medical review officers, labs, consortium)
  • Lab summaries
  • Records related to actual knowledge and refusals to test
  • DOT testing history from former employers
  • CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) queries, pre-employment and annual
  • Clearinghouse limited consent forms
  • Substance abuse professional reports following a violation

Each record has a specific retention period based on §382.401, and purging a document too soon is a violation.  

How To Store Confidential Records

The FMCSA offers some flexibility in the storage of DOT testing records. For instance, the agency lets the carrier choose to store hard copies or scanned images that are stored electronically.

A carrier can store documents throughout the organization between departments (HR, Safety, Operations), different locations (terminals, home office, service provider), or keep them in one centralized location. In any event, the motor carrier must assemble all components of its testing program at its principal place of business when called upon by the FMCSA, especially if stored elsewhere.  

Confidentiality Requirements

No matter how or where the DOT testing information is stored, carriers must ensure that records are secured with controlled access. If the files are stored in a cabinet or office, they must be under lock and key with only designated motor carrier employees having access. If stored electronically, the files must be password protected.

When stored in a centralized database, settings should only allow users to see what is necessary for their jobs. For instance, if an operation has multiple terminals, the location manager would only need access to his/her drivers. And of course, only the administrator of the program should have the ability to delete files.

If you’d like to learn how you can improve your Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC score, request a compliance assessment with a J. J. Keller safety specialist today!


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