It seems towing companies in Texas are struggling with the drug and alcohol requirements. We saw a similar problem with vehicle storage facilities. We’re going to highlight the specific penalties for towing and vehicle storage. Then, we'll teach you how to stay in compliance with the TDLR drug testing policy.
Here’s a snippet from the report:
Tow Violations in Disciplinary Action:
- Did not establish or follow drug policy - 55 violations
- Fail to have data plates on equipment - 54 violations
Vehicle Storage Facility Violations in Disciplinary Action:
- Charged impound fee without services or date - 55 violations
- Did not establish or follow drug policy - 50 violations
In an article written by Texas Towing Compliance, they state that “there is simply no deterrent to following this requirement”. This is in reference to TDLR drug testing. With the Advisory Board’s latest report, it seems that the stats may support this claim. The fines may be small but, not when you combine them. The TDLR combined average for towing and vehicle storage drug policy penalties were $195,930. You should also be aware that second and third offenses include license suspension revocation. Suspension leads to license revocation. If a business is negligent, they won’t get away with it for long.
Towing and Vehicle Storage Facilities Violations for Drug and Alcohol
Towing and Vehicle Storage Facilities have an identical penalty and sanction tier although, the violation descriptions refer to their specific Texas Administrative Codes.
1st Violation: $400
2nd Violation: $600-$800
3rd Violation: $1,000-$1,200
Failure to notify the Department of a change in the licensee’s drug testing policy within 30 days of the date of a change.
1st Violation: $2,000
2nd Violation: $2,500-$3,000 plus 1 year full suspension
3rd Violation: $3,500-$4,000 plus 1 year full suspension up to revocation
Drug and Alcohol Testing Violations
- Failure of a towing company to establish an alcohol and drug testing policy for its employees.
- Failure or refusal to cooperate and follow any term of the company’s drug and alcohol testing policy.
- Employee or applicant took or was under the influence of a drug not prescribed by a physician.
- Employee or applicant engaged in the manufacture, sale, distribution, use, or unauthorized possession of illegal drugs.
- Failure of a company to notify the Department of an employee’s drug or alcohol conviction.
- Failure of a company participating in a consortium to ensure the consortium performs random drug testing on at least 25% of the required employees.
- Failure of a company to notify the Department within three days of an employee’s confirmed positive test result.
- Failure of a towing operator to stand down from towing operation duties following a positive drug and alcohol test result confirmation.
TDLR Towing and Vehicle Storage Drug and Alcohol Requirements
We recommend you read the towing and vehicle storage requirements on the TDLR website. There's some important information that the TDLR doesn't make clear so, we’re going to make some recommendations.
You have two options to meet the TDLR workplace drug testing requirements. Option A is to adopt the TDLR model policy. Option B is to create your own policy that meets or exceeds the TDLR requirements. In either case, be sure to submit your policy to the TDLR for approval.
Here are our recommendations that the TDLR does not address:
Alcohol Testing Procedures
The alcohol testing requirements for towing and vehicle storage facilities are clear as mud. The Vehicle Storage Facility Administrative Rules Chapter 85 doesn’t even address alcohol testing. Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements. This means you can include alcohol testing in your policy for covered employees. We always recommend alcohol testing for safety-specific job duties.
What’s even more alarming is that alcohol testing procedures aren't mentioned. Alcohol-positive concentration levels aren’t mentioned either. For this, we recommend the DOT and FMCSA procedures. The next sections are the DOT and FMCSA requirements. Apply these to your TDLR alcohol testing program.
Devices Recommended for Alcohol Tests
You should only use certain devices to conduct alcohol testing. These are listed on the NHTSA conforming products lists (CPL). The CPL applies to evidential and non-evidential devices used to conduct alcohol screening tests. These include Evidential Breath Test (EBT) devices and Alcohol Saliva Devices (ASD). EBTs are the devices you should use to conduct breath alcohol confirmation tests. Check with your collection sites to make sure they're using these.
What Should Businesses Consider A Positive Alcohol Test?
Alcohol is a legal substance so, there is a tolerance for alcohol use as long as it’s not consumed before or while performing duties. An employee that has a positive alcohol concentration level should register 0.04 or higher. In this case, the employee should be immediately removed from duties. They must also complete the return-to-duty process to go back to work.
An employee who registers 0.02 to 0.039 should be stood down. Remove them from duties until they register below 0.02, 8 hours later, or their next shift. This is not the same as a positive alcohol test. In this case, the employee doesn't have to complete the return-to-duty process.
As a towing or vehicle storage facility in Texas, you should be more aware of your drug testing requirements. You should especially be aware of drug and alcohol violations. These can be a pain but, it’s not worth ignoring the risks and losing your license over.