E-Signature Releases – What is DOT Acceptable?

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What are the requirements for acceptability of e-signatures on drug & alcohol or safe driving records? We receive these from time to time and it is impossible to know if the “confirm” button or the check mark was really generated by the applicant (your previous employee) or a 3rd party TPA / CRA. I’ve researched the FMCSA regulation and asked for FMCSA guidance, but there is no clear direction on what is acceptable.

Step 1 – Make sure you have the proper release forms.

Blanket releases are unacceptable.

Written consent (a Part 40.25 release) must be:
employee-specific;
employer-specific; and
time-period specific.

The consent cannot be part of another DOT requirement such as: a motor vehicle check, credit history, or criminal background check.

The consent needs to be an original signed form for each identified DOT regulated employer needing to provide testing information.

If a carrier uses a service agent to obtain the information on their behalf, the service agent must also be identified on the release form — along with the employer identifying information.

Service agents maintaining testing information for DOT regulated employers
cannot disclose employee test information to other parties unless the employee
provides a specific written consent to do so (Part 40.331).

Step Two
Once you are confident that you have the proper forms, carefully examine the forms for the above information. Any e-docs have to be the functional equivalent of the paper docs they replace.

49 CFR Part 390.31 Copies of records or documents, governs electronic documents and signatures. (See guidance section).

While Third-party administrator / Consumer Reporting Agency (TPA/CRA) type agencies might be regulated, it doesn’t mean they necessarily adhere to DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing regulations. Fraudulently obtained releases (hiding or misrepresenting facts to get the signature) are invalid.

Acronyms 

TPA – Third-party administrator

CRA – Consumer Reporting Agency

FMCSA – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (an agency of the United States Department of Transportation or US DOT)

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