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This is an excerpt from FMCSA's Motor Carrier Safety Planner specific to your interests. As you navigate through the pages, pay close attention to any notes and highlights. Click here to read the entire Safety Planner and find more resources to help you comply with safety regulations.

6.5.5 Return-to-Duty Process and Testing (Under Direct Observation)

Before an employer allows a driver to return to duty to perform a safety-sensitive function after the driver has violated prohibitions of 49 CFR 382, Subpart B, that driver must first do the following:

  • Be evaluated by a substance abuse professional (SAP).
  • Participate in/complete the treatment program prescribed.
  • Pass a drug and/or alcohol return-to-duty test with the following results:
    • Alcohol with a result indicating an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02; and/or
    • Controlled Substances with a result indicating a verified negative result for drug use.
  • Have a documented follow-up testing schedule.

Employers are responsible for reporting negative return-to-duty test results. This information must be reported to the Clearinghouse by the close of the third business day following the date on which the employer obtained the information.See Reporting RTD Information (Employers) for step-by-step instructions. You can also learn more about the RTD process

Substance abuse professionals are required to report the following details of a driver’s return-to-duty process in the Clearinghouse by the close of the business day following the assessment or determination: 

  • The date of completion of an initial SAP assessment

  • The date of determination of eligibility for RTD testing 

Note that a driver’s education/treatment plan is not recorded in the Clearinghouse.

See 49 CFR 40, Subpart O—Return-to-Duty Process.

A return-to-duty test can be used as a pre-employment test when a pre-employment test is required and the new employer would be required to conduct both tests on the same day. See 49 CFR 382.309.

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