WASHINGTON- All employers of commercial drivers-not just trucking fleets-must now randomly conduct breath-alcohol tests of at least 25 percent of their drivers annually under a federal mandate that became effective Jan. 1. ``Tire dealers, driver training schools, churches, counties which employ snowplow drivers-all of them have to comply,'' said Rob Abbott, a drug and alcohol testing specialist for the American Trucking Associations.
Failure to conduct the tests, or to keep detailed records, can result in Federal Highway Administration fines of $500 to $10,000 per violation per day.
Expanding on interstate motor carrier testing requirements in existence since 1988, the FHWA issued rules mandating drug and alcohol use prevention programs in February 1994. These rules became mandatory for all companies employing 50 or more drivers holding commercial licenses as of Jan. 1, 1995, and for all other companies employing such drivers as of Jan. 1, 1996.
The alcohol tests affect an estimated 7.2 million commercial drivers.
Under the rules, four types of tests are required:
When a supervisor or company official has reasonable suspicion a driver has been abusing alcohol;
Random, to be conducted just before, during or just after a driver makes a trip; and
Follow-up testing after a driver who has violated alcohol abuse rules returns to duty.
In random testing, if a driver has a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.02-equivalent to the consumption of one beer-he must be removed from driving or other ``safety-sensitive'' duties for at least 24 hours.
If his or her blood-alcohol level is at least 0.04, the driver must meet with a health care worker trained in alcohol counseling.
The ATA published a pamphlet giving an overview of employer requirements under the regulation and is selling manuals, instructional videotapes and other products regarding compliance with the regulation.
To order these products or obtain more information about them, call the ATA at (800) ATA-LINE or fax to (800) 225-8382.