What Insurance Retailers Need To Know And Share About New Dot Drug Testing Standards

Loren Henry

Broker, Worldwide Facilities – San Diego

January 23, 2018

To help reduce liability for clients whose businesses employ commercial motor vehicle drivers, insurance retailers should be aware of the new Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2018.

According to an article titled, “Drivers and Trucking Companies Need to Know about the New DOT Regulations Regarding Drug Testing,” from the Law Offices of G. Spencer Mynko, the rule change, published on November 13, 2017, has a two-pronged goal: to meet new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) drug testing guidelines and to help fight the growing opioid epidemic. Naturally, businesses wish to avoid property and casualty liability issues related to employee drivers who are impaired, and they count on insurance agents to help them not only cover that liability but avoid such risk in the first place.

The rule previously covered testing for heroin, morphine, and codeine. It has added to employee testing requirements four semi-synthetic opioids: (i.e., hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone), which go under brand names such as OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, and Dilaudid. Furthermore, the DOT rules added methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte and removed the testing for methylenedioxyethylamphetaime (MDEA). Note also that the term “opiates” has been changed to “opioids.”

It is important for businesses that employ commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to be aware that even if a driver has a prescription and a legitimate reason for taking one of these semi-synthetic opioids, that driver is deemed medically unqualified to drive a semi-truck, notes the Mynko article.

While the revision of the drug-testing panel harmonizes DOT regulations with the revised HHS Mandatory Guidelines established for Federal drug-testing programs for urine testing, no drug test is perfect, Mynko notes. He further cautions that even those drivers who are actively using drugs can have “clean” tests—a factor insurance agents would be wise to stress to clients and prospective clients.

The final DOT rule is published in the Federal Register (82 FR 52229) and on the website of the Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) at www.transportation.gov/odapc/frpubs. ODAPC encourages affected entities, including employers and service agents, to review and be acquainted with this rule and its provisions.

For more information, contact Loren Henry at lhenry@wwfi.com or (619) 541-4265.

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