Written by attorney Linda Medeiros Callahan

CDL Positive Drug or Alcohol Test Hearing

How long will my CDL be disqualified? Employers of commercial drivers are required to have in place a testing program for drugs and alcohol that complies with federal law. Providing a positive alcohol or drug test as a part of such a testing program may result in a lengthy period of disqualification. The disqualification will be for at least one year and may be even longer. You will not be able to get your CDL back until you demonstrate satisfactory participation or completion of treatment. Lifetime disqualification will result if a commercial driver have three positive results in a five-year period. A refusal to take a test at the employer’s direction will also result in disqualification.

How long do I have to request a DOL hearing? Y ou have the right to a hearing to challenge the disqualification and a subsequent appeal to superior court if you do not win the hearing. There is a 20-day deadline to request a DOL hearing to challenge the disqualification. Your request for a hearing must be postmarked within this time period. Otherwise, DOL will automatically disqualify your license. This is a strict requirement. If you do not respond in time, you waive your right to a hearing. After you request a hearing, you will continue to have CDL privileges pending the hearing officer’s decision and the results of an appeal, if you file one, unless you have a moving violation or another positive drug or alcohol test.

What happena at the hearing? After going over the issues in the case, the hearing officer will admit “exhibits" into the record, which will allow the hearing officer to consider those items in his or her final decision. You or your lawyer will have an opportunity to object to the admission of the evidence. You or your lawyer may also introduce exhibits into evidence. Any witnesses who have been subpoenaed will be conferenced into the phone call, sworn in, and you or your lawyer will be able to question them. The hearing officer may also question witnesses, and you or your lawyer will have the opportunity to make objections. After witnesses testify, you can introduce evidence to rebut, or disprove, what they said. You also have the right to testify on your own behalf. You should never decide to testify without the advice of an experienced lawyer because your testimony might hurt your case. Or, something you say may be taken out of context and used against you. Finally, you may make legal arguments during the hearing itself and you can submit written legal briefs.

What are the issues at the hearing? The issues for the hearing officer to decide are:

  • Whether you are the person named in the report
  • Whether the employer is required to have a testing program under federal law
  • Whether the officer or technician who made the report accurately followed protocols to verify the result or, if you refused a test, whether the facts constitute a refusal under federal law
  • Whether the result was a false positive

What will happen after the hearing? After the hearing, the hearing officer prepares a written decision called a “final order" that makes a decision about all of the issues in your case. The final order will state whether the proposed disqualification will go into effect, and if so, when it will go into effect. Once you receive the final order, you have 30 days to appeal the case to the superior court in the county where you live if DOL did not dismiss your case. The appeal to superior court is “de novo", which means the superior court is free to make its own decisions about the facts and the issues in the case.

How do I get my CDL back it I lose? At the end of your disqualification, you must re-qualify in order to be able to have CDL privileges again. If you are unsure of the current status of your license or about what incident(s) have been reported on your driving record, you can request a copy of the record from DOL. To re-qualify for your CDL after your disqualification is over, you will need to:

  • Have a drug or alcohol dependency assessment
  • Have successfully completed or participated in an approved treatment program
  • Re-take the CDL tests
  • Re-apply for a hazardous materials endorsement if necessary
  • Pay a $150 to re-qualify plus licensing fees

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