Examples of Job Hopping by Commercial Drivers after Failing Drug Tests

Millions of American drivers hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), allowing them to operate a variety of commercial vehicles, such as school buses, cargo vans, and tractor trailers. While most commercial drivers do not test positive for drugs and alcohol, Department of Transportation (DOT) data show that each year from 1994 through 2005, from 1.3 percent to 2.8 percent of truck drivers tested positive for the presence of illegal drugs under random testing. However, as recent investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows, the current DOT drug testing process can easily be defeated with products, such as synthetic urine, that are widely available for sale. To help prevent accidents resulting from commercial drivers who use drugs and alcohol, federal law requires commercial drivers to be tested for drug and alcohol use. Specifically, the testing is required as part of the preemployment screening process, on a random basis while employed, and following an accident involving a fatality. Commercial drivers who fail a drug test, refuse to test, or otherwise violate the drug testing regulations are required to complete a return-to-duty process before returning to the road. The return-to-duty process is guided by a substance abuse professional and must include education or treatment, return-to-duty testing, and follow-up testing. However, among the commercial drivers who test positive for illegal drugs, an unknown number continue to drive without completing the required return-to-duty process. Those who do not go through the return-to-duty process and continue to drive are called job-hoppers. A job-hopper tests positive for one carrier; is fired, quits, or is not hired; and subsequently tests negative on a preemployment test for another carrier. DOT regulations require that employers—with the applicants’ consent—request the applicants’ drug testing records from previous employers. Because they avoid the return-to-duty process and can choose to not disclose their prior failed drug tests, these commercial drivers could continue to drive and use drugs. In addition to abstaining from drug use for a short period in order to pass the second test, a wide variety of available commercial products can mask drug use and may allow commercial drivers to pass drug tests even as they continue to use illegal drugs. Because of the significant danger of commercial drivers circumventing the return-to-duty requirements and driving shortly after a failed drug test, GAO was asked to identify illustrative cases of job-hopping commercial drivers based on data that Congress provided to GAO from a third-party administrator. Specifically, GAO was asked, to the extent possible, to determine (1) the current employment status for selected employees who passed the drug test after recently failing the test; (2) whether the failed test was known to the current employer prior to, or after, hiring the individual; and (3) whether the prior positive test result was disclosed on the application for current employment.


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Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Tables;
  • Pagination: 11p

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01108902
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-08-829R
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 1 2008 1:52PM