Driving Transactions
Tuesday, July 23, 2024

TOPIC: What is your policy for administering drug and alcohol tests to your chauffeurs? How frequently do you test, and who pays for it?

Randy Allen Our chauffeurs—and all employees—participate in pre-employment, random, and reasonable-suspicion drug and alcohol testing. Our chauffeurs are subject to DOT regulations (those who operate commercial motor vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds or carry more than eight passengers for interstate travel) and are randomly tested at a yearly rate of 50 percent, and 10 percent are tested for drugs and alcohol, respectively, as mandated by FMCSA/DOT. For nonregulated employees, we test at a rate of 20 percent, with 10 percent also tested for both drugs and alcohol.

The company always pays for the tests. We also have dispatchers trained in reasonable suspicion-detection through a DOT-approved course, since they interact with the chauffeurs most often.

Our industry is pushing hard against TNCs, using duty of care as one of our main arguments. Meeting—and exceeding—federal and/or state regulations for drug and alcohol testing is one way we can maintain our duty of care obligations to protect our customers and the general public while differentiating ourselves from TNCs.

Randy Allen, Co-Owner/VP of Sales and Marketing
James Limousine Service in Richmond, Va.

Jim Barnes I invest a lot of time and effort in recruiting and retaining chauffeurs; as such, we pay for testing and DOT exams if a new hire does not have a valid medical card. Because our chauffeurs cross state lines, we have to follow federal guidelines, rather than the state’s. We go above the minimum for new hires by doing a pre-employment, five-panel DOT drug test even after reviewing a valid safety performance history report from the transportation director of the driver’s current or previous employer.

The frequency of testing is not something I can determine on my own. The rule is that 50 percent of your driver pool has to be randomly drawn for a drug test and 10 percent should be tested for alcohol. The trick is performing a random draw, which is why I am a member of a DOT consortium: They are responsible for assisting us, as well as implementing and maintaining a random drug- and alcohol-testing program that conforms with DOT regulation 49 CFR Part 40. Ours can do everything we need, including draws, testing, exams, post-accident, record retention, reports, and training. They also have trained our VP of Operations and me in the required two-hour drug and alcohol reasonable-suspicion course.

Over the years, I have enrolled in both types of consortium providers—one that just will manage the pool and one that is a full-service provider—and prefer the one-stop shop. You need a professional to perform your DOT drug and alcohol testing. It is worth the money.

Jim Barnes, President
JLS Enterprises in Cincinnati, Ohio

Sami Elotmani As a drug- and alcohol-free workplace, we do require administrative drug and alcohol testing as a condition for employment. Furthermore, all chauffeurs are subject to random drug and alcohol testing on a quarterly basis, and Destination MCO is responsible for all costs associated with maintaining this policy. In addition to the obvious safety benefits of upholding such a policy, we have found it useful as a selling tool to corporate clients, as it provides a stark contrast to the policies of some of our competitors, including TNCs.

Sami Elotmani, Director of Operations
Destination MCO in Orlando, Fla.

John Greene Look in any newspaper or magazine and you’ll find a report on how drugs are rampant in the workplace. But that’s a battle that we, as a company, are determined not to lose when it comes to our chauffeurs, as we are literally putting other people’s lives in their hands.

Our drivers are screened randomly once a year and the results are put through a seven-step lab test as mandated by Massachusetts and paid for by the company. Should a driver fail such a test, we don’t throw them to the curb: We work with them to be placed in rehab for 30 days and then, after a sufficient time, they are eligible to be re-tested every 90 days. Should they fail a second time, that’s when we terminate their employment.

However, our testing begins well before any chauffeur hits the road, in the pre-employment phase. We’re happy to report that of the 70 or so drivers we hire per year, only a few fail to make the grade.

John Greene, President
ETS International in Randolph, Mass.

Ted Hernandez Premier Transportation takes the responsibility of drug and alcohol testing very seriously because the safety of our clients depends on it. Candidates are informed of our policy during the interviewing process. This policy includes a pre-employment drug and alcohol test, upon which employment is contingent. Failure to pass this test will result in a rescinded offer of employment.

Once employed, our chauffeurs receive permits from the cities of both Dallas and Fort Worth that must be renewed every two years; a drug and alcohol test is part of this renewal. For CDL drivers, the Texas Department of Transportation requires annual renewal of the driver health card with drug and alcohol testing.

We go beyond these minimums with random drug and alcohol testing quarterly. Additionally, chauffeurs are required to take a drug and alcohol test immediately following any vehicular accident, regardless of fault. A chauffeur who receives a positive result on a drug and alcohol test is suspended until the results are confirmed. Upon completion of more thorough testing, positive results ensure termination and negative results allow a return to work.

Premier Transportation incurs all costs associated with drug and alcohol testing because we believe our client’s safety is always the priority.

Ted Hernandez, Director of Group Logistics and Sales
Premier Transportation in Dallas, Texas

Keith Johnson As an interstate motor carrier, we are subject to federal regulations rather than state regulations. While only CDL holders are subject to Part 382 of the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, all chauffeurs at Reston are tested prior to employment and when applicable while employed. This includes pre-employment, random quarterly, return-to-duty and follow-up, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident tests. All testing, federally mandated or per Reston’s policy, is paid for by the company.

Keith Johnson, Safety Manager
Reston Limousine in Dulles, Va.

Dave Lathbury Black Tie administers pre-employment drug testing to its chauffeurs. We do follow DOT testing requirements; however, we go a step further and perform random drug and alcohol testing on all chauffeurs—not just those required by the DOT.

We cover all costs associated with the testing. We outsource the random selection to a medical company who meets DOT requirements. Furthermore, we add non-DOT-regulated chauffeurs to a separate test pool also managed by the same medical company, which comes out to about 10 percent of the staff throughout the year.

Dave Lathbury, General Manager
Black Tie Limousine Worldwide in Haverhill, Mass.

Jeff Nyikos Our chauffeurs are entered into a random pool, which is administered by a third party. In addition, all chauffeurs are tested yearly by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission. We require our chauffeurs to pay for the annual test as part of their license fees. Leros absorbs any costs associated with random selection testing. We perform testing annually with random selection performed throughout the year with no maximum collection clause.

Jeff Nyikos, President
Leros Point to Point in Hawthorne, N.Y.

Renzo Ormsbee In my opinion, this is an area that many providers do not take seriously enough. If there is ever any issue, lawyers will be asking about duty of care and your procedure needs to be professional.

Our city requires drivers to be tested to get their initial chauffeur license; we considered a test upon hiring but it seemed redundant since, by statute, the driver’s city test can only be 30 days old in order to be valid. If the chauffeur has received approval from the city, then they are a legal commercial driver, which is generally a high enough standard for us.

If we employ a chauffeur who already holds a license, we do a test upon hire. We then enter him into our monthly program, and he can be chosen randomly in time periods as little as three months. By our policy, we also test in the case of an accident, and reserve the right to test in event of certain performance or behavioral issues (at management’s discretion) if the need arises. All testing is done at the company’s expense with our contracted testing provider so there are no custody or vendor relationship issues between chauffeurs and providers.

Renzo Ormsbee, President
Elite Worldwide Transportation Solutions in Houston, Texas

Shane Stickel Presidential’s drug and substance policy exceeds Colorado’s state requirements and adheres to federal regulations to include all DOT requirements. We drug test all employees at pre-hire, and conduct quarterly random drug tests via a third-party administrator. Drug tests are also administered post-accident.

In addition, we have three managers who are trained and certified in the Reasonable Suspicion Drug and Alcohol Program; it takes one of those trained managers to verify the need for giving a reasonable-suspicion test to any employee.

We pay for all workplace-related drug and alcohol testing. All employees must read, acknowledge, and sign our drug- and substance-free workplace document at the time of hire and again at each of subsequent year of employment.

Shane Stickel, President
Presidential Worldwide Transportation in Denver, Colo.

Christine Sullivan We generally stick to state requirements, but we do have some company policy testing that we adhere to. For example, if an accident doesn’t meet the state’s criteria, but a customer/passenger is onboard, we will do post-accident testing on the driver. The company pays for all testing.

The company performs testing pre-employment at the time of hire, randomly (per state requirements), post-accident (both state requirements and under company authority), and if there is reasonable suspicion on an as-needed basis.

Christine Sullivan, Human Resources Generalist
A&A Metro Transportation in Bridgewater, Mass.

We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions since debuting this interactive section—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!

Have you wondered how others in the industry have tackled a concern you’re currently facing, handled a delicate issue, implemented a certain policy, or do you simply want to propose a topic for our consideration?

Send an email to rob@chauffeurdriven.com and you just might see your query answered in a future issue. We look forward to your input!