DOT COVID-19 Guidance

Transportation

DOT Guidance on Compliance with Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations

This guidance document provides clarity to DOT-regulated employers, employees, and service agents on conducting DOT drug-and-alcohol testing given concerns about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).  We, as a Nation, are facing an unprecedented public health emergency that is straining medical resources and altering aspects of American life, including the workplace. The Nation’s transportation industries, which are not immune to the impacts and disruptions resulting from the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, are playing a vital role in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.

DOT is committed to maintaining public safety while providing maximum flexibility to allow transportation industries to conduct their operations safely and efficiently during this period of national emergency.

The below guidance on compliance with the DOT and modal drug and alcohol testing programs apply during this period of national emergency.

For DOT-Regulated Employers:

  • As a DOT-regulated employer, you must comply with applicable DOT training and testing requirements.[2] However, DOT recognizes that compliance may not be possible in certain areas due to the unavailability of program resources, such as collection sites, Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), Medical Review Officers (MRO) and Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP).  You should make a reasonable effort to locate the necessary resources. As a best practice at this time, employers should consider mobile collection services for required testing if the fixed-site collection facilities are not available.[3]
  • If you are unable to conduct DOT drug or alcohol training or testing due to COVID-19-related supply shortages, facility closures, State or locally imposed quarantine requirements, or other impediments, you are to continue to comply with existing applicable DOT Agency requirements to document why a test was not completed.  If training or testing can be conducted later (e.g., supervisor reasonable suspicion training at the next available opportunity, random testing later in the selection period, follow-up testing later in the month), you are to do so in accordance with applicable modal regulations.  Links to the modal regulations and their respective web pages can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/agencies
  • If employers are unable to conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing due to the unavailability of testing resources, the underlying modal regulations continue to apply.  For example, without a “negative” pre-employment drug test result, an employer may not permit a prospective or current employee to perform any DOT safety-sensitive functions, or in the case of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you cannot hire the individual (See 14 CFR § 120.109(1) and (2)).
  • Additionally, DOT is aware that some employees have expressed concern about potential public health risks associated with the collection and testing process in the current environment.  Employers should review the applicable DOT Agency requirements for testing to determine whether flexibilities allow for collection and testing at a later date.
  • As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of the employee’s refusal to test and determine whether or not the employee’s actions should be considered a refusal as per 49 CFR § 40.355(i).  However, as the COVID-19 outbreak poses a novel public health risk, DOT asks employers to be sensitive to employees who indicate they are not comfortable or are afraid to go to clinics or collection sites.  DOT asks employers to verify with the clinic or collection site that it has taken the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Employers should revisit back-up plans to ensure the plans are current and effective for the current outbreak conditions.  For example, these plans should include availability of collectors and collection sites and BAT, and alternate/back-up MRO, as these may have changed as a result of the national emergency.  Employers should also have regular communications with service agents regarding the service agent’s availability and capability to support your DOT drug and alcohol testing program.

For DOT-Regulated Employees:

  • If you are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms, you should contact your medical provider and, if necessary, let your employer know about your availability to perform work.
  • If you have COVID-19-related concerns about testing, you should discuss them with your employer.
  • As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of the employee’s refusal to test and determine whether or not the employee’s actions should be considered a refusal as per 49 CFR § 40.355(i).

For Service Agents:

  • As a collector, BAT, laboratory, MRO, or SAP, you should continue to provide services to DOT-regulated employers if it is possible to do so in accordance with State or local mandates related to COVID-19.  Should you have concerns about COVID-19 when testing or interacting with employees, please follow your company policy, directions from State and local officials, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You are encouraged to continue to monitor guidance from public health officials and to refer to official government channels for additional information related to COVID-19.  The CDC provides helpful guidance and insight from medical professionals who closely monitor the virus. The CDC latest updates (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html). Also for reference, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 (https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf)

This guidance document does not have the force and effect of law and is not meant to bind the public in anyway.  This guidance is intended only to provide clarity regarding existing requirements under the law.

How to conduct testing is found in 49 CFR Part 40 (see https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/part40 ), while who gets tested and when (along with drug and alcohol-related training requirements) can be found in the applicable DOT modal regulations (see https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/agencies).

[3]As a reminder, point-of-collection testing or instant tests are not authorized in DOT drug testing (see https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/part40/40-210)

If you have any questions, please contact us!

Refusal To Test

Refusing Paperwork

What is a refusal to take a DOT drug test, and what are the consequences? The DOT regulations speak to refusals in subpart I – Problems in Drug Testing. The three rules that are commonly cited are 40.191, 40.193, and 40.195. A refusal to test is much broader than the employee telling their employer that they will not have the test completed.

(a) As an employee, you have refused to take a drug test if you:

(1) Fail to appear for any test (except a pre-employment test) within a reasonable time, as determined by the employer, consistent with applicable DOT agency regulations, after being directed to do so by the employer. This includes the failure of an employee (including an owner-operator) to appear for a test when called by a C/TPA (see §40.61(a));

(2) Fail to remain at the testing site until the testing process is complete; Provided, That an employee who leaves the testing site before the testing process commences (see §40.63 (c)) for a pre-employment test is not deemed to have refused to test;

(3) Fail to provide a urine specimen for any drug test required by this part or DOT agency regulations; Provided, That an employee who does not provide a urine specimen because he or she has left the testing site before the testing process commences (see §40.63 (c)) for a pre-employment test is not deemed to have refused to test;

(4) In the case of a directly observed or monitored collection in a drug test, fail to permit the observation or monitoring of your provision of a specimen (see §§40.67(l) and 40.69(g));

(5) Fail to provide a sufficient amount of urine when directed, and it has been determined, through a required medical evaluation, that there was no adequate medical explanation for the failure (see §40.193(d)(2));

(6) Fail or decline to take an additional drug test the employer or collector has directed you to take (see, for instance, §40.197(b));

(7) Fail to undergo a medical examination or evaluation, as directed by the MRO as part of the verification process, or as directed by the DER under §40.193(d). In the case of a pre-employment drug test, the employee is deemed to have refused to test on this basis only if the pre-employment test is conducted following a contingent offer of employment. If there was no contingent offer of employment, the MRO will cancel the test; or

(8) Fail to cooperate with any part of the testing process (e.g., refuse to empty pockets when directed by the collector, behave in a confrontational way that disrupts the collection process, fail to wash hands after being directed to do so by the collector).

(9) For an observed collection, fail to follow the observer’s instructions to raise your clothing above the waist, lower clothing and underpants, and to turn around to permit the observer to determine if you have any type of prosthetic or other device that could be used to interfere with the collection process.

(10) Possess or wear a prosthetic or other device that could be used to interfere with the collection process.

(11) Admit to the collector or MRO that you adulterated or substituted the specimen.

If the employee is concerned about COVID-19 and refuses to go into the clinic to have the collection completed, it is deemed a refusal to test. If the test is considered a refusal, you must consider it as a violation. As a result, the refusal must get reported to the clearinghouse. For information on how to handle this violation, please read our other article here.

If you have any questions, please contact us! We are here anytime to assist you with compliance!

DOT CBD Notice

CBD Molecule

DOT OFFICE OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL POLICY AND COMPLIANCE NOTICE

 

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334, (Farm Bill) removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.  Under the Farm Bill, hemp-derived products containing a concentration of up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are not controlled substances.  THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.  Any product, including “Cannabidiol” (CBD) products, with a concentration of more than 0.3% THC remains classified as marijuana, a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

 

We have had inquiries about whether the Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees can use CBD products.  Safety-sensitive employees who are subject to drug testing specified under 49 CFR part 40 (Part 40) include:  pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, fire-armed transit security personnel, ship captains, and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.

 

It is important for all employers and safety-sensitive employees to know:

 

  1. The Department of Transportation requires testing for marijuana and not CBD.

 

  1. The labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no Federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate. The FDA has cautioned the public that: “Consumers should beware purchasing and using any [CBD] products.”  The FDA has stated: “It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.”*  Also, the FDA has issued several warning letters to companies because their products contained more CBD than indicated on the product label. **[i]

 

  1. The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, Part 40, does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. Furthermore, CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result.Therefore, Medical Review Officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product.

 

It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.  Since the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result, Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products.

 

The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. This policy and compliance notice is not legally binding in its own right and will not be relied upon by the Department as a separate basis for affirmative enforcement action or other administrative penalty.  Conformity with this policy and compliance notice is voluntary only and nonconformity will not affect rights and obligations under existing statutes and regulations.  Safety-sensitive employees must continue to comply with the underlying regulatory requirements for drug testing, specified at 49 CFR part 40.

 

 

February 18, 2020

2020 DOT Random Testing Rates

Transportation Technology

The following outlines the annual minimum drug and alcohol random testing rates established within DOT Agencies and the USCG for 2020.

DOT Agency 2020 Random Drug Testing Rate 2020 Random Alcohol Testing Rate
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 50% 10%
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 25% 10%
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) 25% – Covered Service 10% – Covered Service
50% – Maintenance of Way 25% – Maintenance of Way
Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) 50% N/A
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 50% 10%
United States Coast Guard (USCG) 50% N/A

 

Note: Employers (and C/TPAs) subject to more than one DOT agency drug and alcohol testing rule may continue to combine covered employees into a single random selection pool.

 

USCG covered employees may be combined with DOT covered employees in drug testing pools even though the USCG is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Consortium/Third-Party Administrator (CTPA)

Health and Safety

Nationwide Testing Association, Inc., is a Consortium/Third-Party Administrator. Being a C/TPA means that we manage all, or part, of our client’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program. Our goal as a C/TPA is to guide our clients in safety and regulatory compliance.

As a DOT Consortium, we play a unique service agent role for our owner operator and single driver clients. While 40.355 (K) prohibits service agents from serving as “designated employer representatives” (DER), the consortium is authorized to perform a number of employer functions for you. Larger DOT-Regulated employers may choose to be part of our consortium, or request a stand-alone DOT random testing program.

Would you like to learn more about our programs? Learn More!

We are the industry leader for DOT, Department of Transportation, compliant drug and alcohol testing programs, as well as our program administration, and customer service!  Would you like to learn why?

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Medical & Recreational Marijuana in a DOT Regulated Workplace

Marijuana & CBD Oil

As more and more states enact laws authorizing the use of medical and recreational marijuana, it is increasingly important for employers to stay informed. We have had several inquires about whether the Department of Transportation would change its longstanding regulation about the use of marijuana by safety-sensitive transportation employees. The Department of Transportation’s regulations impact pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, subway operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, transit fire-armed security personnel, ship captains, and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.

 

The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations – 49 CFR Part 40 at 40.151(e) – does not authorize “medical marijuana” under state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.

 

“40.151 (e) – You must not verify a test negative based on information that a physician recommended that the employee use a drug listed in schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act. (e.g., under a state law that purports to authorize such recommendations, such as the “medical marijuana” laws that some states have adopted.) “

 

Marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act. It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.

 

The purpose of these regulations is to assure the traveling public that our transportation system is the safest it can possibly be. It continues to be important to educate all of your safety-sensitive employees on the regulations and ensure that you are operating safely.

 

If you would like our help or are interested in talking to us, then contact us. We have been helping companies promote safety for over 38 years!