U.S. DOT Extends Enforcement Discretion Allowing Remote Drug And Alcohol Abuse Evaluations For CDL Drivers

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) announced last week the extension of expiring agency enforcement discretion permitting remote drug and alcohol abuse evaluations of CDL drivers by Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP).

The enforcement discretion was first issued on April 4, 2020 extended several times and set to expire on June 30, 2022. However, due to the continued need for COVID-19 social distancing, ODAPC is extending the enforcement discretion for remote driver evaluations thru December 31, 2022.

Normally, drug and alcohol abuse driver evaluations must be done in person. COVID related enforcement discretion is necessary to prevent delays in the SAP evaluation of a driver’s post violation education, treatment, follow-up testing and aftercare required in order to return to duty.

The flexibility to conduct remote assessments and evaluations is voluntary, and SAPs may continue to conduct in-person face-to-face assessments and evaluations as appropriate, according to ODAPC.

SAPs who choose to conduct initial assessments and evaluations and follow up evaluations remotely should consider the following parameters–

— The technology used should permit a real-time two-way audio and visual communication and interaction between the SAP and CDL driver.

— The quality of the technology (e.g., speed of the internet connection, clarity of the display, application being used, etc.) should be sufficient to gather all the visual (e.g., non-verbal physical cues) and audible information normally needed to observe in an in-person face-to-face interaction.

— SAPs may only utilize the technology if authorized under their State-issued license.

The original April 4, 2020 enforcement discretion also allowed service agents including specimen collectors, medical review officers, screening test technicians, breath alcohol technicians and third-party testing consortiums to forgo regularly scheduled requalification training through June 30, 2022.

The ODAPC announced it is not extending enforcement discretion for requalification training beyond June 30, 2022.

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