Recent News & Updates

DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs

Each USDOT Agency, USCG, FMCSA, FRA, FTA, FAA, and PHMSA, has a specific set of rules and guidelines dictating random ratios, policy development, training, and educational requirements for employees and supervisors for that particular agency. Please refer to the website listed below for the DOT agency to whom your company must report. Or, contact your NTA, Inc representative for assistance.

49 CFR, Part 40 guidelines for BAT, STT, Drug Screen Collector, MRO Laboratory, and SAP functions are the same for most USDOT agencies. All DOT agencies test for the following drugs: Amphetamine (methamphetamine, MDMA, MDA) Cannabinoids, Cocaine, Opioids (codeine, heroin, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone) PCP (Phencyclidine) 6MAM (6 Acetylmorphine).

USDOT Agencies

For this overview, “employee” is defined as an individual who performs safety-sensitive functions as outlined in the regulations of the DOT agency or agencies to which a company must report. USCG is now under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security; however, the testing program still operates under Part 40 guidelines.

I.     What are the General Responsibilities of Employers Under These Regulations? (49CFR, Subpart B)


40.11

  1. As an employer, you are responsible for meeting all applicable requirements and procedures of this
  2. You are responsible for all actions of your officials, representatives, and agents (including service agents) in carrying out the requirements of the DOT agency
  3. All agreements and arrangements, written or unwritten, between and among employers and service agents concerning the implementation of DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements are deemed, as a matter of law, to require compliance with all applicable provisions of this part and DOT agency drug and alcohol testing Compliance with these provisions is a material term of all such agreements and arrangements.

II.   Fines and Penalties

Violations of any part of 49CFR Part 40 and specific DOT agency regulations may result in significant fines and penalties. For a list of recent fines and penalties, contact your NTA representative.

III.   Medical Review Officer

  • 49CFR, 121 outlines who is qualified to act as an MRO, what fundamental knowledge is required of the MRO, Qualification Training, and Continuing Education.
  • All DOT drug screens, negative and positive, must be verified by a qualified MRO.

IV.  Laboratories


Only laboratories certified by HHS under the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) are allowed to conduct DOT urine Drug Screens per 49 CFR, Part 40. 81. Examples include: LabCorp, Quest, Med-Tox, and Abbott.

V.   Required Forms for DOT Drug Testing

  • All DOT required drug tests must be conducted on a Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control
  • DOT will not recognize non-DOT drug screens for DOT drug testing

IMPORTANT: All DOT employers are required to use the revised Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form effective January 1, 2018.

  1. Types of Required Testing
  • Pre-Employment: A drug test must be conducted on safety-sensitive employees defined by the DOT modality with results known before the performing safety-sensitive functions the first A Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form must be used. NOTE: DOT does not require a pre-employment breath alcohol test, only a drug test.
  • Random: Drug testing is required at a ratio set by the DOT Agency under which the employer operates. It is normally either 25% or 50%, depending on the agency. Alcohol Testing, spread reasonably throughout the year, may be required at 10% or higher for some DOT agencies. Quarterly is most often used; however, some companies prefer monthly. Once the employee is notified that he/she has been selected, he/she must proceed to the collection site
  • Post Accident: Drug test is required within 32 hours, alcohol test is required within 2-8 IMPORTANT: Each DOT agency outlines the situations in which a DOT drug/alcohol test is required. Please locate the regulatory reference that applies to the DOT agency your company is subject to. Contact NTA if you need assistance in locating the specific regulation.
  • Reasonable Suspicion: Must be determined by a trained supervisor. An Observed Behavior Documentation form must be completed before requesting the test from the employee and placed in his/her file. The employee must be informed of the reasons for the testing request. The supervisor must accompany the employee to the collection
  • Return to Duty: Must be performed in accordance with 49CFR Part 40, Subpart This test is performed before an employee may resume safety-sensitive functions after substance abuse treatment. Effective August 2009, all Return to Duty Tests must be directly observed.
  • Follow Up: Must be performed in accordance with 49CFR Part 40, Subpart O. At least 6 unannounced follow up tests must be performed during the first 12 months an employee is back at work after substance abuse treatment Effective August 2009, all Follow-Up Tests must be directly observed.

VII.     Additional Required Components for an Employer’s DOT Drug/Alcohol Testing Program

  • A written policy that meets the requirements of each specific DOT agency must be in A copy of this policy must be distributed to all employees who perform safety-sensitive functions as defined by the DOT agency. A signed receipt of this policy must be on file for DOT review as well as the policy itself. NTA will provide clients with a DOT policy when the account is set up. Each employee must receive a copy of this policy, as well as sign and date the employee receipt of policy. Keep the signed and dated receipt of policy on file.
  • The employer must provide educational materials on the DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing regulations to all This information must be given to each employee and a signed receipt must be kept on file for DOT review, in addition to at least one copy of the booklet. NTA provides clients with qualifying educational materials for employees.
  • The employer must have on file the name, address, and contact information of a qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). DOT does not require that the employer keep an employee or pay for treatment after a positive That is the decision of the employer and should be outlined in the substance abuse policy. However, the regulations require that all employees be referred to a qualified substance abuse professional, even if terminated. The employer must document the referral.
  • The employer must ensure that all drug screen collectors and alcohol technicians are The best way to do this is to request copies of certification from all collectors and alcohol technicians.
  • Reasonable Suspicion Supervisor Training must be received by all supervisors of employees performing safety-sensitive functions. This is mandatory 2-hour training that must address signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse as well as documenting and handling reasonable suspicion testing NTA offers this training via regional seminars and on-site or written materials that can be purchased and used in- house.

What Substances Does DOT Test For?

DOT testing is conducted for both alcohol and drugs. The drugs that DOT tests look for include the following:

  • Marijuana/THC
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines (including methamphetamine)
  • Opiates (including heroin, codeine, and morphine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

According to numbers provided by the DOT, marijuana and amphetamines were the most commonly found substances as a result of DOT testing for commercial motor vehicle drivers in 2015. Overall, positive results remain low for commercial drivers. In 2015, just 1.85% of DOT test results were positive; however, that is still more than the DOT would like to see to ensure transportation safety across the country.

What Conduct is Prohibited by DOT Regulations?

The purpose of DOT drug testing requirements is to ensure that safety-sensitive employees do not use alcohol or illicit drugs while performing safety-sensitive functions. As part of that effort, some behavior is specifically prohibited. Safety-sensitive employees cannot report for duty or remain on duty under any of the circumstances detailed below.

  • Under the influence: Employees with a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or greater are not allowed to perform their duties. Most employees cannot use alcohol within four hours of reporting for service. For flight attendants and crew members, that is extended to eight hours.
  • Drug use: Employees may not report for duty or stay on duty if they have used any controlled substance, specifically illicit drugs. Some controlled substances may be allowed if they are being used under the direction of a medical provider.
  • Refusing a test: Employees that refuse to submit to a drug or alcohol test will be dismissed from duties. It is also prohibited to interfere with the testing process or with a collected specimen.

DOT drug and alcohol testing is a federal requirement that helps ensure the safety of thousands of workers and individuals across the country. Understanding the requirements and the process helps both employers and employees remain in compliance and keep each other safe.

Contact us today for more information or to get set up!

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  • Compliance Tech Line
    • Available to clients with questions on any part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
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Email compliance@ntatesting.com with your question or questions. An NTA Compliance Specialist will be in touch to consult with you with answers and guidance.

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Best Practices for DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Testing

I. Introduction

What’s the best tool employers have for deterring drug and alcohol use in the workplace?
Random Testing. And, here are just a few of the reasons why:
·Saves lives and prevents injuries.
·Helps employers identify workers with substance abuse issues and facilitate their treatment.
·Allows employees to easily say no to illegal drug use. “No, thanks. They drug test at work.”
·Reduces employer liability.
·It is a fair way of testing.

The purpose of this publication is to help DOT covered employers and service agents in implementing and evaluating their own random testing programs. While DOT regulations serve as a mandatory minimum and do not prevent additional practices that serve the effectiveness of a testing program, don’t forget that some DOT covered employers may also have extra requirements from industry specific regulations.

What follows are best practices as identified by representatives from the Office of the Secretary’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

While actually reading the regulations is very important, we hope this guide provides an additional tool for implementing an effective random testing program.

II. Random testing is required for safety-sensitive employees

Each DOT Agency and the USCG has regulations that require certain employers to
implement a random testing program.

IndustryRegulation
FAA – Aviation14 CFR Part 120, Subpart E, section 120.109(b)
14 CFR Part 120, Subpart F, section 120.217(c)
FMCSA – Motor Carrier49 CFR Part 382.305
FRA – Railroad49 CFR Part 219.601 and 219.607
FTA – Transit49 CFR Part 655.45
PHMSA – Pipelines49 CFR Part 199.105
USCG – Maritime49 CFR Title 46 Part 16.230
Note: FRA requires employers to submit their random plans for approval.

III. Establishing Random Testing Rates

The DOT Agency that regulates a specific transportation industry sets the random testing rate. The
Administrator of each DOT Agency is authorized to either increase or decrease the random drug and
alcohol testing rates. To establish an appropriate rate, Administrators use information reported
from the drug and alcohol Management Information System (MIS) form required by 49 CFR Part 40 and
other indicators. The rates are always effective starting January 1 of the calendar year. To check
for the current rate, visit ODAPC’s website at: http://www.dot.gov/ost/dapc/rates.html .

The random rates are annual minimum requirements. So if a DOT Agency requires a drug testing rate
of 50% and an alcohol testing rate of 10%, then an employer with 100 safety-sensitive employees
would have to ensure that 50 or more random drug tests and 10 or more random alcohol tests were
conducted during the calendar year.

IV. Setting-Up a Random Pool of Employees

A. Who gets tested?

Regardless of job titles like supervisor, volunteer, contractor, owner operators, etc., people are
chosen for testing based on their job function (known as a safety-sensitive function) not their
occupational title. Only DOT safety-sensitive employees may be part of the DOT random pool or
pools. Remember your DOT testing program must always be separate and distinct from your private
company or non-DOT testing program. That goes for your random testing pools, too. DOT and non-DOT
random testing pools must be completely separate.

Best Practice: Just prior to performing a random selection, refresh the pool to include all safety-
sensitive employees subject to DOT random testing, and exclude those not subject to DOT random
testing.

B. Can an employer regulated by different DOT agencies put its employees in the same random pools?

Yes. Employers and Consortia/Third Party Administrators (C/TPAs) subject to more than one DOT
Agency drug and alcohol testing rule may combine covered DOT safety-sensitive employees into a
single random pool. However, companies doing so must test at or above the highest minimum annual
random testing rates established by the DOT Agencies under whose jurisdiction the employees fall.
So, if you have FMCSA regulated- and FRA regulated-employees in the same pool, and FMCSA has a 50%
testing rate and FRA has a 25% rate, you must test the pool at the 50% minimum rate.

Note: PHMSA and USCG do not authorize random alcohol testing for employees in the pipeline and
maritime industries. So if employees perform only pipeline duties or maritime duties, they cannot
be in any DOT-regulated random alcohol testing pool.

Of course employers may decide to separate the pools by specific regulated transportation industry
– such as a separate pool for truck drivers and a separate pool for transit workers. Each pool must
be tested at the required DOT Agency rate for that industry.

C. Does an employee performing duties covered by more than one DOT Agency need to be in multiple pools?

An employee performing duties subject to more than one DOT Agency’s regulations must be randomly tested at the percentage rate established for the calendar year by the DOT Agency regulating more than 50 percent of the employee’s function. So if you have an employee who drives your trucks 75 percent of the time and operates your transit busses 25 percent of the time, that employee needs to be in the FMCSA-regulated pool.

Remember: All other testing (e.g., pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion) is regulated under the Agency that regulates the function the employee was performing at the time of the event. Wreck the transit bus; you are subject to post-accident testing under FTA regulations even if you are in the municipality’s FMCSA random pool.

D. How are employees selected for testing?

Everyone in the pool must have an equal chance of being selected and tested in each selection period. Selections can be by employee name, identifying title, or with FRA regulated testing, a group that is clearly delineated in company policy or random plan.

Be sure to use a scientifically valid method to select employees for testing, which may include: use of a random-number table, a computer-based random number generator that’s traceable to a specific employee (or with FRA, a group).

Note: In the railroad industry, it is a common practice to select employees by the train number rather than specific employee. This would mean that any covered employee working on that train on a specific day (whether it was their regularly assigned position or not) would be tested. Only the FRA permits this practice.

Warning: Unacceptable random selection practices include selecting numbers from a hat, rolling dice, throwing darts, picking cards, or selecting ping pong balls.

E. How often should selections and tests take place?

What makes random testing so effective is the element of surprise. While employees know they will be tested, they are never quite sure of when, so random selections and testing should be performed at least quarterly. Some employers are selecting and testing more frequently. We think that is a good idea.

Note: If you think you might not meet your annual testing rate requirement, increase your testing. But, in an effective random program, testing must be spread equally throughout the year.

Best practices: Here are smart things you can do to figure out when to test:

·Spread testing dates reasonably throughout the year in a non-predictable pattern.

·Conduct random drug tests anytime employees are on duty or while performing safety-sensitive duties. See your Agency regulations for your specific industry requirements of when to conduct testing. FRA has “hours of service” testing considerations.

·Conduct random alcohol tests just before, during, or just after the employee performs a safety-sensitive job, as described in your industry specific regulations.

·Each workday or weekend, you can enhance the non-predictability of your program by conducting tests at the start, middle, or end of each shift. The worse thing that could happen is for employees to say, “Yup, the last Friday of every month the second shift gets tested.”

V. Testing

A. Why are some people randomly tested more than once?

“Is the boss singling me out? I just did a random last month? Joe, never gets tested? I don’t think
this thing is random at all!”

Those are not uncommon concerns among some safety-sensitive employees, and many employers have been
challenged in court to demonstrate that their programs are truly random. The reality is that in a
truly random selection process, a high probability exists that some employees will be selected
several times while others may never be selected.

Why? Because after each selection, the employee’s name is returned to the same pool, and he or she
becomes just as likely as anyone else to be selected next time.

B. How are employees notified to report for a test?

Every employee should be discreetly notified according to your company’s policy, but random testing
must also be conducted in strict confidence with a limited number of people having knowledge of the
selection list.

Why? Because it helps maintain the element of surprise.

Best Practices: Every employer should have procedures in place to ensure that each employee
receives no advanced notice of selection. But, be sure to allow sufficient time for supervisors to
schedule for the administration of the test and to ensure that collection sites are available for
testing.

Remember: Employers must provide appropriate privacy for each employee the fact that he or she is
being tested.

C. What happens if a selected employee is not available for testing?
Employers need to have policies in place about what to do when employees are unavailable for
testing.

Best Practices:

· If an employee selected for testing is known to be unavailable during the selection cycle
(legitimate extended absence, long-term illness, etc.), document the reason and make-up the rate
shortfall by making another selection, or make an extra selection during the next selection cycle.

· An employee is selected for testing but has not received notice since it is his day off, test the
employee during his or her next shift within the same selection cycle.

· No employee should be excused from testing because of operational difficulties. See your industry
specific regulations and interpretations for legitimate exceptions.

· Once the employee is notified to report for testing and the test does not occur, the opportunity
for the random testing is over. There is no second “bite of the apple.”

D. What must employees do when notified of a random test?

When an employee is notified, he or she must proceed immediately to the collection site. Contrary to the urban legends circulating among some employees, immediately does not mean two hours.
Immediately means that after notification, all the employee’s actions must lead to an immediate
specimen collection

Why? For the integrity of the testing process.

Best Practice: Many employers develop random testing procedures or policies that clearly state what
activities are acceptable after notification: for instance, which safety-sensitive duties Agency
regulations permit them to complete. If an employee is notified of a random test while working “off
site” or “on the road,” the company’s policies should spell-out exactly what the employee must do
before resuming safety-sensitive functions. That way there is no misunderstanding among employees
about what is expected.

Note to Service Agents and Consortia/Third Party Administrators: Owner-operators and other
employers who themselves perform safety-sensitive duties present a special notification challenge.
So, if you are a service agent or C/TPA providing random selections and notices to an
owner-operator, you should have written procedures on how they are notified and instructed after
notification on when to report to a specific collection site. You must also have a written policy
about what constitutes a refusal to test if they fail to appear for a test when notified. You
should also provide these written items to these owner- operators and self-employed
safety-sensitive employees.

VI. Maintaining and Evaluating Your Random Program

It is the best practice for an employer to document everything on the entire random testing
process. This includes the numbers, names drawn, dates and times of notification, dates and times
of collections, why a selected employee was not tested during a selection cycle, etc. If you’re not
sure, document it!

Best Practices:
· Service agents and C/TPAs providing random selection and testing services to employers should
monitor on an ongoing basis (daily or weekly) the random tests that have been completed and compare
them to those that were selected. If a random test has not been completed in an acceptable
timeframe (within a day or week) of the expected test date, the service agent or C/TPA should
contact the employer to determine the status of the test and take the necessary steps to ensure the
test is completed within the selection period.
· Employers, service agents, and C/TPA should not wait until the end of the selection period to
reconcile the random testing numbers. This is a weak business practice that we want to discourage.

Remember: You must maintain all your testing records in accordance with industry specific
regulations. For more information, see the document, “Employer Record Keeping Requirements for Drug
and Alcohol Testing Information.” You can find this document at:
http://www.dot.gov/ost/dapc/documents.html .

If you have any questions on best practices don’t hesitate to call us!

Driver Qualification File Requirements

Regulation 49 CFR 391 explains the minimum requirements for commercial motor vehicle drivers. Motor carriers are required to maintain a qualification file for each of their drivers. The following information will help you be certain that each driver qualification file is complete.

Initial Driver Qualifications File Requirements:

  • Driver’s Application for Employment – 49 CFR 391.21
    • Must retain for life of employment + 3 years after termination
  • Driver’s Road Test Certificate or Equivalent – 49 CFR 391.31(e)
    • Must retain for life of employment + 3 years after termination
  • Inquiry to Previous Employers: Safety Performance History Records Request – 49 CFR 391.23 (a)(1) and (b)
    • Must retain for life of employment + 3 years after termination
  • Safety Performance History Records: Driver Correction or Rebuttal (If applicable) – 49 CFR 391.23 (i)(2) and  49 CFR 391.23 (j)(3)
    • Must retain for life of employment + 3 years after termination
  • Inquiry To State Agencies for 3-Year Driving Record – 49 CFR 391.23 (a)(1) and (b)
    • Must retain for life of employment + 3 years after termination
  • Pre-Employment Drug and Alcohol Documents – 49 CFR 40.25(j); 49 CFR 382.301
    • Must retain for 1-Year for negative results and 5-years for verified positive drug test results

Ongoing Updates:

  • Inquiry To State Agencies for Driving Record – Annual – 49 CFR 391.25 (a) and (c)
    • Must retain for 3 years from the date of execution
  • Review of Driving Record – Annual – 49 CFR 391.25 (c) (2)
    • Must retain for 3 years from the date of execution
  • Driver’s Certificate of Violations – Annual – 49 CFR 391.27
    • Must retain for 3 years from the date of execution
  • Medical Examination Report and Medical Examiner’s Certificate – 49 CFR 391.43
    • Must retain for 3 years from the date of execution
  • Employer note verifying that medical examiner is listed on National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners – Non-CDL Drivers: 49 CFR 391.51 (b)(9)(I); CDL Drivers: 49 CFR 391.51 (b)(9)(ii)
    • Must retain for 3 years from the date of execution

The following additional documents are only required for certain types of drivers, or in specific situations. 

  • Entry-Level Driver Training Certificate – 49 CFR 380.509(b)
    • All CDL drivers with less than one year experience must provide this certificate.
      • Must retain for 3 years from the date of execution
  • Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) Driver Training Certificate – 49 CFR 380.401
    • A driver must not operate an LCV unless the driver can produce an LCV Driver Training Certificate or an LCV Driver Training Certificate of Grandfathering
      • Must retain for life of employment + 3 years after termination
  • Multiple-Employer Drivers – 49 CFR 391.63
    • For drivers with multiple employers
      • Must retain for life of employment + 3 years after termination
  • Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate – 49 CFR 391.49
    • Must retain  for 3 years from date of execution

For more information on DOT compliance and workplace safety, contact us today at 1.800.452.0030!