When to Join a Drug & Alcohol Consortium

Jennifer Loomis, Associate Editor

November 17, 2021

 Drug and alcohol testing

I was recently contacted by a carrier with two drivers of CMVs requiring CDLs wanting to know if they had to be part of a consortium for their DOT random drug and alcohol pool. The short answer is no. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) only specify that there must be two or more covered employees in a random testing pool. That means that the only employers required to contract with a consortium are owner-operators or companies with only one driver of a CMV that requires a CDL. As I told that carrier, though, there are some things to consider before assuming that a consortium isn’t for you.


A consortium is a simply a group of businesses. In this case, it’s a group of businesses grouped together for the purpose of creating a random drug and alcohol testing pool to meet the requirements set forth in 49 CFR §382.305. Still, some — small carriers especially — could realize savings in time and money by contracting with a consortium to handle their random pool. To return to the example I shared earlier, only two of this carrier’s drivers are required to be part of a DOT random drug and alcohol testing pool.


Current testing rates are 50 percent for drug testing and 10 percent for alcohol testing. Based on these rates, this particular carrier would only have to complete one drug and one alcohol test per year. However, testing must be completed on at least a quarterly basis. That means this carrier will end up sending drivers to complete four drug and four alcohol tests each year. Eight tests will need to be conducted over the course of the year, and all eight of those tests will be administered to only two drivers.


If, instead, the carrier chose to participate in a consortium, this carrier’s two drivers would be combined with drivers from many other carriers. The testing rates of 50 percent and 10 percent remain the same no matter the size of the testing pool. Once they are grouped with dozens or even hundreds of other drivers, this carrier’s drivers’ odds of being randomly selected go down substantially; it’s even possible that they won’t ever be randomly selected. This means the carrier pays for fewer tests, drivers spend less time away from their jobs being tested, and, especially in the case of a small carrier, the drivers in question won’t become frustrated with being sent for drug and alcohol testing repeatedly throughout the year.


The option of whether or not to participate in a consortium is up to you, of course. If you want to continue managing your own random drug and alcohol testing pool with two or more drivers, there is nothing preventing you from doing so. It may be worth considering a consortium, though, and the cost of the contract may be more than paid for in time saved.


To learn about joining a drug & alcohol consortium managed by J. J. Keller, contact us today at 888.473.4638 or fill out the form below.