Middlesex County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund offers drug/alcohol screening for all commercial drivers in its member municipalities

Municipal workers who possess a commercial driver’s license have many responsibilities — from navigating large dump trucks to snowplows to passenger buses in all kinds of weather and other challenges.

Because of the enormous responsibility, as well as risks to public safety, the Middlesex County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund wants to ensure all municipal vehicles are operated as safely as possible.

“Our job is to minimize risk as much as possible as a joint insurance fund,” MCMJIF Chair Harry Delgado, MCMJIF said. “Not only does it ensure a healthy, productive workforce, it greatly minimizes insurance costs for taxpayers in the municipalities we serve. That is why we are focused on commercial driver safety, as accidents can be a leading cause of insurance expense.”

To that end, the MCMJIF has a longstanding business relationship with Dynamic Testing Service of Toms River. The company provides federally mandated random drug and alcohol screening of employees with commercial driver’s licenses among the MCMJIF members. The service provides 24/7 response to emergencies, such as post-accident and reasonable suspicion testing, throughout New Jersey.

The service is open to drivers in all counties, not just Middlesex.

MCMJIF has access to a medical review officer, a licensed physician to review employees’ positive tests. The MRO contacts employees with positive drug test results to check for medical history and/or use of legally prescribed medication. The MRO then reports the results to the MCMJIF member.

Employees who test positive, or otherwise violate drug and alcohol policy, are subject to discipline, up to and including termination. Depending on circumstances, workers can be reassigned to desk jobs, suspended from work or terminated from public employment, based on the policies of the employer and/or regulations. A positive drug or alcohol test will also require the employee to be seen by a substance abuse professional/counselor and will be required to submit to follow-up testing.

Sherrie Boyle, who has been collecting drug and alcohol data for 15 years on behalf of the MCMJIF, said the New Jersey Department of Transportation requires ongoing random testing of municipal drivers. By having a third-party vendor perform the work, the municipalities are not involved in selecting which employees are tested. MCMJIF has access to a DOT-approved computerized random selection process that eliminates any accusation of bias, Boyle said.

MCMJIF pays the cost for the screening, as opposed to the MCMJIF members. Random testing must be done at least quarterly for alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, phencyclidine and marijuana.

Boyle noted municipal drivers are not permitted to use cannabis, despite the fact it is commonly sold throughout the state. That is because commercial driver’s licenses are regulated by the federal government, which still considers cannabis to be an illegal controlled substance.

Employees testing positive also have their names placed into a database, known as the “FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.” The clearinghouse is designed, Boyle said, so potential employers are informed of any policy infractions by employees.

“Through this process in place, we are taking the necessary precautions to ensure municipal drivers are operating vehicles safely,” Delgado said. “Also, when needed, we can identify employees with substance abuse problems and begin to get them the help they need.”