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How can I improve in the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC?

Controlled substances and alcohol is just one of seven areas that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) monitors with its Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) program. Like the other six categories, the FMCSA assigns commercial drivers a percentile rank based on their performance when compared to other drivers with a similar number of safety violations.

What is the Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC?

This BASIC specifically pertains to Parts 382 and 392 under CFR 49. When conducting an inspection or receiving information from a police officer, inspectors for the FMCSA look at impairment due to alcohol intoxication, the use of illegal drugs, and the improper or overuse of prescription drugs. You would receive a violation under this BASIC for a concentration of drugs or alcohol in your system of .02 percent. The FMCSA has the immense responsibility of keeping the public safe.

Documents required during an investigation

It’s important to review FMCSA guidelines frequently to ensure that you feel prepared for a roadside inspection. The agency requires drivers to carry numerous documents with them to prove their eligibility to drive. When it comes to the controlled substance and alcohol BASIC, an inspector could request that you produce one or more of the following documents:

  • Past records of any confirmed cases of positive test results for alcohol or controlled substances
  • Documentation of any incidence when you refused testing for alcohol or controlled substances
  • Driver referrals and evaluations

These documents help the inspector to determine whether you have committed a safety violation. If so, the FMCSA may use this information to initiate intervention efforts to bring you into compliance.

How to improve your performance in the Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC Category

The most important thing you can do to avoid a high score and FMCSA intervention in this area is to know and abide by all regulations regarding the use of alcohol and drugs on the job, including those prescribed by your doctor. Employers also need to stress the importance of remaining clean and sober while on the job. This includes providing ongoing education about the topics as well as ensuring that drivers understand how safety inspectors assign a percentile rank.

Any violation under the controlled substance and alcohol BASIC will impact your percentile rank for up to 24 months. How long ago the violation took place and its severity help to determine your initial ranking. The violation will drop off after 24 months so long as you don’t receive any others.

How to view your BASICs rankings

As a commercial driver, you have the right to view safety information the FMCSA keeps about you at any time. You can do this by navigating to the SMS website and signing in with your credentials. This allows you to see your percentile rank in every BASIC. You should pay special attention to any BASIC with a warning symbol since this indicates the need to improve your performance.

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