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You are Here: Home > Blog > DOT Alcohol and Drug Testing Changes

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Employee Rights and Related Matters

DOT Alcohol and Drug Testing Changes

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed rule changes to its alcohol and drug testing procedures, that will become effective on August 25, 2008. DOT-regulated employers must follow DOT procedures, while employers who are not DOT-regulated may voluntarily follow them, as some do.

Update: DOT’s proposed rule changes for alcohol and drug testing were challenged in federal court. See the blog post Alcohol & Drug Tests Toughen for Transportation Workers for more information.

The proposed changes make specimen validity testing (SVT) mandatory within the DOT-regulated transportation industries, to detect adulterated, substituted, diluted and invalid urine specimens.

All urine specimens will be tested for validity, to better ensure that employees and job candidates┬áhaven’t tampered with their specimens in an attempt to dishonestly pass alcohol or drug testing.

The proposed changes also make direct observation mandatory for all return-to-duty and follow-up drug tests. Employers conduct return-to-duty tests before allowing employees to return to work after they’ve tested positive for alcohol or drug abuse, while they conduct follow-up tests when they suspect that employees or job candidates have tampered with their specimens.

“Direct observation” for return-to-duty and follow-up drug tests can go as far as invasively requiring testees to embarrassingly expose their genitals to observers, so that observers may visually check for devices that testees could use to tamper with their specimens. For example, a readily-available prosthetic “cheat” device closely resembles the human male anatomy and delivers drug-free urine into a test vial.

The DOT changes are to create consistency with specimen validity testing established in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which spawned the Model Plan for a Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program for all employers who conduct alcohol and drug testing.

Under the HHS Model Plan and subsequently, under the proposed new DOT rule, if you are busted for tampering with your urine specimen, it’s good cause for your employer to fire you or another to decline to hire you. However, as indicated above, you might get a second chance by taking a follow-up test.

To read about the new DOT rule, see Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs. For more about DOT alcohol and drug testing overall, see the information at Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance.

For employee rights and answers to common employee concerns regarding alcohol and drug testing, see Drug Testing in the Workplace. Consult an attorney for legal advice about same.

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