DOT Updates Definition of Service Agent in Drug and Alcohol Testing

In a prelude to the expected release of the Commercial Drivers License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse final rule later this month, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance updated its definition of service agent Aug. 8. According to DOT, for more than 16 years, a service agent has been defined as a third-party person or entity who provides services to employers and/or employees in connection with DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements. The term includes collectors, breath alcohol technicians, saliva testing technicians, laboratories, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals and consortia/third-party administrators. “As technology has grown, service agents have branched into providing electronic services,” DOT said in its announcement. “Given the fact that additional services have been offered to employers related to DOT’s drug and alcohol program, the types of providers that fall into the definition of service agent have evolved.”

The technical change to the definition of service agents was required by the 2012 highway law, MAP-21. “We believe that it is important to continue to note that if a DOT regulation requires specific qualifications, then the service agent must comply,” DOT added. “In so doing, we are conforming to MAP-21 and clarifying that the expanding range of drug and alcohol program services has been included in this definition.” The rule will create a central database for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for CDL holders and refusals by such drivers to submit to testing. It will require employers of CDL holders and service agents to report positive test results and refusals to test to the clearinghouse. Prospective employers will be required to check with the clearinghouse to determine if any specific information about a driver applicant is in the clearinghouse before allowing he/she to be hired to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Currently, employers must rely on information provided by the driver, “who might not disclose prior positive drug or alcohol test results, or refusals to test,” DOT said. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget for its review on May 20. It’s expected to be published Aug. 29. Via ttnews.com