Washington State Drug Testing Laws for Truck Drivers

October 13, 2023

Being a truck driver in Washington requires a good grasp of various rules and regulations, all of which are crucial for maintaining your license and ensuring safety on the road. One of the most important rules involves being drug-free while operating your vehicle. Not unlike state law relating to driving under the influence (DUI), there’s a number of regulations that require truck drivers to be drug tested in Washington.

Specifically, Washington state law follows regulations set by the federal Department of Transportation (DOT). As such, truck drivers in Washington have to be drug tested at certain intervals, and failing to comply with these laws could have serious consequences.

What Are Drug Testing Laws For Truck Drivers in Washington?

Truck drivers in Washington have an overriding responsibility on top of making deliveries and transporting goods:

  • Operating their vehicles in a way that keeps them and other drivers safe.

Drug use, whether it be recreational or a more extensive substance abuse issue, can seriously hamper a truck driver’s ability to drive safely. Not only that, but it puts everyone else at risk–particularly sharing the road with a commercial truck that is so much larger and heavier than normal passenger vehicles. While truck drivers in Washington have to follow the law as it pertains to driving under the influence, there are additional measures in place for drug testing set by the federal DOT. These regulations include:

  • Pre-employment testing – Before hiring a new driver, Washington employers must conduct pre-employment drug testing. This is to ensure that individuals who are about to enter the profession are not using prohibited substances.
  • Random testing – Employers are required to conduct random drug tests on a percentage of their drivers throughout the year. This helps to deter drug use among truck drivers and ensures ongoing compliance.
  • Post-accident testing – After certain types of accidents, such as those resulting in fatalities, injuries, or significant vehicle damage, drivers involved in the accident are subjected to drug testing.
  • Reasonable suspicion testing – If a supervisor or company official has reasonable suspicion that a driver is using drugs or alcohol, the driver can be required to undergo testing. This reasonable suspicion must be based on specific observations.
  • Return-to-duty testing – Drivers who have previously violated drug and alcohol regulations must undergo return-to-duty testing, which includes both drug and alcohol testing, before they can resume driving.
  • Follow-up testing – Drivers who have violated drug and alcohol regulations will be subject to unannounced follow-up testing over a specific period as a condition of their continued employment.
  • Banned substances – The DOT mandates testing for specific drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP).

It’s important to note that marijuana, even if legal for recreational or medical use in the state of Washington, remains a prohibited substance under DOT regulations for safety-sensitive positions like truck driving. This also goes for any legally-prescribed medications that contain opioids, at least up to the specified cutoff level.

As a truck driver in Washington, you must follow these rules to keep your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and stay in the industry. Not following them can lead to severe penalties, such as losing your CDL. Further, this applies whether you own and operate your own vehicle or work for a company.

Drug Testing Procedure and Compliance

DOT regulations not only specify when you’ll be drug tested as a truck driver, but also how. As you might expect, the procedure and resources that the DOT has for drug testing truck drivers is rigidly controlled. Driving a commercial truck is a highly demanding job, and that’s why the drug testing procedures are in place and implemented the way they are.

As it relates specifically to the drug testing procedure in Washington, it includes the following steps:

  • Notification – The truck driver is informed by their employer or a regulatory agency that they must undergo a drug test.
  • Scheduling – The truck driver sets up an appointment at an approved drug testing facility or laboratory.
  • Collection – At the testing facility, the truck driver provides a urine sample, which is securely sealed. Sometimes, saliva samples may also be collected.
  • Analysis – The sample is sent to a certified laboratory for analysis, where it’s screened for specific drugs or controlled substances.
  • Results – The drug test results are reported to the employer or regulatory agency. If the truck driver tests positive for drugs, they could face disciplinary measures, including potential suspension or loss of their commercial driver’s license.

Maintaining Compliance

It’s worth emphasizing that the DOT has strict rules and guidelines for drug testing, and truck drivers must adhere to these regulations to maintain their good standing and continue their work as commercial drivers.

Not surprisingly, complying with these regulations is extremely important to your career’s continued success. To that end, the easiest way to comply is to report for testing when called and to stay drug free. Aside from that, you can prepare for a drug test in the following ways:

  • Don’t use drugs or medicines that can cause a false positive. Tell the test administrator about any prescribed medicines.
  • Stay hydrated but not excessively so since you’ll provide a urine sample. Follow the test instructions, and bring a valid photo ID like a driver’s license or passport.
  • Be on time, wear comfortable clothes, and be ready for the test. This ensures accurate results and a smooth process, benefiting both you and your employer.

Contact CCD Law Today

Truck drivers throughout Washington carry a heavy responsibility for road safety. In order to make sure that you can meet this duty, it’s important to comply with both state and federal regulations on drug testing

At CCD Law, our team is here to provide guidance and protection for your rights. If you’re a commercial truck driver seeking to better understand your options or if you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck driver in Spokane or the surrounding area, contact us today for a free consultation.

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