The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") has published another final rule which takes effect today, February 29, 2012. This rule addresses the drug use of commercial motor vehicles drivers, and the FMCSA aims to eliminate inconsistencies in at least three areas.

First, the final rule amends the physical qualifications for commercial motor vehicle ("CMV") drivers to clarify that drivers may not, under any circumstances, use Schedule I drugs and be qualified to drive a CMV. This change aligns the language with that used by the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") in its regulations. The final rule now cites to 21 CFR part 1308, making it clear that the rule applies to the drugs and substances on the DEA’s controlled substance schedules.

The prior rule did not differentiate between Schedule I and non-Schedule I drugs for purposes of the prescription exception, so the Agency amended §391.41 to clarify that the exception that allows a CMV driver to use a substance or drug if it is prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner, applies only to non-Schedule I prescribed substances, amphetamines, narcotics, or other habit-forming drugs.

Secondly, the FMCSA amends §§382.201 and 382.215 because it found the use of the term "actual knowledge" throughout certain sections of the rule was incorrect. The words "actual knowledge" have been replaced with the word "knowledge," clarifying that the relevant prohibitions refer to the knowledge of test results, not employer observation of prohibited conduct.

Lastly, prior to this final rule, §382.211 only prohibited drivers from refusing to submit to post-accident, random, reasonable suspicion, or follow-up drug or alcohol tests. The final rule amends this section to include pre-employment and return-to-duty testing as additional provisions. The final rule makes the regulation consistent with DOT-wide drug and alcohol testing rules.Continue Reading Drug Rules for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Updated