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What Landscape Contractors Need to Know About Drug Testing

  • Who must be drug tested? Any driver with a Class A or Class B license who operates a vehicle with a GVWR or GVCW of 26,001 lbs or more.
  • Does it matter if we are intrastate only?  No. some confusion exists because intrastate-only vehicles do not always require a DOT registration. But if a driver operates a vehicle as described  above, s/he must be in a random drug testing program.
  • What is a consortium?  A consortium is a pool drivers from different companies for the purpose of selecting random tests. Currently, the FMCSA require 50% of all CDL holders be randomly tested for drugs and 10% be tested for alcohol. A consortium facilitates random testing for smaller employees.

  • What happens in a DOT audit? It depends. If you are doing it all right, not much. If not, you end up writing checks. A new-ish client of ours with 13 drivers joined our programs after negotiating its DOT penalty down to $13,000. Read about what a DOT auditor looks at here.

  • What is the FMCSA clearinghouse? The clearinghouse is a federal database housing drug and alcohol violations for CDL drivers. In its 2 years of operation more than 100,000 violations have been recorded. Employers are required to query the Clearinghouse for new hires, an annually for all existing drivers. Penalties for non-compliance are set at $5833 per violation. Really.


Landscape contractors and similar businesses in colder climates often lay off employees during the off season, usually winter. School bus companies have a similar challenge in the summer months.

So a DOT employer is faced with the following options.

  1. Remove employees from the random testing pool in the off-season. This means that when they are re-hired, each must receive a negative pre-employment drug test and a pre-employment Clearinghouse query when re-hired. This is disruptive, expensive, and often forgotten.
  2. Leave the drivers in the random testing pool, and if they are selected, they are excused and alternates are selected, if available. This can be cumbersome and difficult to manage.

At InOut Labs, we have a third option: a seasonal pool. For our seasonal employers, we have custom random selection pools where no selections are made in Q1 (January through March).

This saves our employers money, time and frustration. And fines.

Read DOT guidance for school bus drivers here. Same logic.

Drug Testing for Landscape Contractors

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