Excerpted from CCJ Commercial Carrier Journal by James Jaillet

The U.S. DOT’s new database of drivers who have failed or refused a drug test is meant to restrict the ability of drivers who didn’t pass a drug test from holding or gaining employment as a truck driver. But new numbers released Friday by DOT reveal that thousands of drivers could have failed a drug test already this year yet could remain employed and potentially remain behind the wheel for months.

“There are situations where things could fall through the cracks,” said Tom Fulmer, vice president of National Drug Screening, a national provider of DOT drug tests.

DOT said Friday that more than 8,000 records have been added to its CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse since Jan. 6, the date that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rule took effect. That means, as of Friday, more than 8,000 CDL holders have failed or refused a drug test (or committed an alcohol violation) as part of a pre-employment screening, random drug test or post-accident test in the last seven weeks.

Those who have failed a random drug test, or a post-accident test have likely been sidelined but drivers who failed a pre-employment screening could still be employed and still be driving.

“It’s not impossible,” said Kathryn Russo, an advisor for drug testing law at the law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. She added that it’s unclear “how many of those 8,000 that would apply to.”
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