Drug-Free Workplace and Testing Laws

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Our in-house employer drug testing training bundles include everything you need to start drug testing your own employees and maintaining a drug-free workplace. Questions? Call 1-888-390-5574.

What is a Drug-Free Workplace?

A drug-free workplace is where employees are prohibited from using or possessing drugs and alcohol. These policies help create a safe and productive work environment. Employees who violate the drug-free workplace policy may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.

Drug-free workplace programs typically include drug testing, employee education and training, and policies and procedures for addressing drug use in the workplace. These programs deter drug use and create a safer and more productive work environment.

Who Should Have a Drug-Free Workplace?

Employers should consider implementing a drug-free workplace program if they are concerned about drug use affecting their business. Drug use can lead to absenteeism, accidents, injuries, and decreased productivity. A drug-free workplace program can help reduce these risks.

Certain employers are required to have a drug-free workplace program in place. These include employers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) drug testing provisions or the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Employers who receive specific federal contracts or grants must also have drug-free workplace programs.

State and local laws may also require employers to have drug-free workplace programs. For example, some states require employers to drug test employees in certain safety-sensitive positions.

What are the Benefits of a Drug-Free Workplace?

There are many benefits of having a drug-free workplace, including:

  • Reduced risk of accidents and injuries
  • Decreased absenteeism and turnover
  • Improved morale and productivity
  • Reduced insurance costs

A drug-free workplace can also help improve your company’s image and reputation. Customers and clients may feel more confident doing business with a company that has a drug-free workplace policy in place. Implementing a drug-free workplace program shows that you are committed to creating a safe and productive work environment.

Employers implementing drug-free workplace programs may be eligible for certain benefits, such as discounts on workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Drug-free programs, training, and policies can help employers avoid liability, lower insurance costs, and improve workplace safety.

Who needs to learn and understand drug testing laws?

Employers, laboratories, collection sites, substance abuse professionals, third-party administrators, medical review officers, and other service agents should be familiar with the workplace drug and alcohol testing laws in the state or states in which they operate. However, employees, labor unions, and labor and employment attorneys also benefit from the information provided in these courses.

When and how often should you take a course on drug testing laws?

Whether through legislation such as a medical marijuana bill or through common law such as a recent and important court case, the law on drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is one of the most rapidly evolving categories of the law. Therefore, we highly recommend taking one of these courses for each state in which you operate annually.

Where can you take a drug testing law course?

All of our courses are available online and on-demand. You can enroll by selecting the state or states below in which you operate, continue through registration, and a set of login instructions will be emailed to you within minutes. In some instances, this information may be delayed if the course is undergoing an important update or review to ensure the most current drug and alcohol testing law information is conveyed.

Why are drug testing laws so important to understand?

Risk

A prospective employee admits to using marijuana but has evidence of a legal marijuana prescription. Your policy prohibits the use of marijuana. Is this a violation? It depends on the state. In some states considering this a violation is against the law as prohibited discrimination, in another state you may be subject to liability for negligent hiring practices if you place her in a safety-sensitive position and she causes injury.

Money on the Table

Studies show that drugs and alcohol in the workplace contribute to more accidents, absenteeism, lower productivity, and decreased morale which create indirect costs on the workplace. It often makes sense for an employer to adopt a program. Many states provide financial incentives for adopting a drug and alcohol free workplace program in the form of workers’ compensation insurance premium rebates or discounts. These benefits are unique to the state, but you may never learn about them unless you take a workplace drug and alcohol testing course.

Lawful Activity

High turnover employers prefer to get drug and alcohol testing results instantly. Many resort to instant testing urine or saliva to achieve this goal. However, is this method lawful? This depends on the state, whether the employer has adopted a policy under the state voluntary drug-free workplace program or independent of it, and the general procedures in how a non-negative result is carried out. Understanding the state drug and alcohol testing laws is an important step in avoiding unwittingly committing unlawful activity.

Better Negotiations

Employers and labor unions often fiercely negotiate the terms of a drug-free workplace program. Critical to this negotiation process is actually knowing what limitations the state may or may not place on the terms of that bargain. Likewise, employers and their service agents (laboratories, medical review officers, collection sites, etc.) often engaging in negotiations on the price and extent of services to be rendered in the implementation of a drug-free workplace program. Both parties are at an advantage if they can express a solid understanding of the status of the laws in the state(s) which are the subject of the negotiations.

State-by-State Drug Testing Laws

Alabama (AL)

Under Alabama law, a private employer has the option to opt-in to the state Drug-Free Workplace program which provides a workers’ compensation premium discount to those who comply.

The intent of this program is to promote drug-free workplaces so that employers could maximize their levels of productivity, enhance their competitive positions in the marketplace and reach their desired levels of success without experiencing the costs, delays, and tragedies associated with work-related accidents resulting from substance abuse by employees.

Employers create a policy that conforms with the program and apply for a certification to be awarded the discount. Employers have no legal duty to implement a drug testing policy and have the sole discretion to follow the program.

The Alabama Administrative Code added supplemental provisions to the Drug-Free Workplace program that also needs to be followed; employers should review all related statutes to ensure proper compliance.

Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment statute require that employees follow the Federal Department of Transportation procedures or similar reliable procedures.

Alaska (AK)

Alaska has a voluntary drug testing law. For companies that wish to qualify for limited legal protections, they must comply with this law.

In order to receive the benefits of the law, employers must implement a comprehensive policy and must adhere to a specific collection, testing, and confidentiality procedures.

The statute provides a rebuttable presumption that tests performed that followed the statute are accurate.

The law also allows for on-site testing; in order for employers to include on-site testing in its policy training and certification of the employer is required.

Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana are both legal in the state; Employers are not required to make accommodations for either Marijuana use.

Arizona (AZ)

Under Arizona law, there is no requirement for private employers to implement a drug-free workplace policy. However, if an employer chooses to implement a policy, the employer should abide by Arizona’s voluntary drug testing statutes in order to receive protection from the state.

Arizona’s drug-free testing statutes provide employers protection if they abide by all the requirements in the statute. Employers can be guarded against litigation, causes of action, and defamation suits as long as they follow the statute and do not fall within one of the exceptions.

The State of Arizona has allowed the use of Medical Marijuana and this has brought some issues with drug testing and workers’ compensation laws. Employers need to avoid discriminating against an employee solely because of the employee’s status as a registered Medical Marijuana Cardholder.

Arkansas

Arkansas has implemented a drug-free workplace program that gives employers incentives when followed.

This was created to maximize the levels or productivity and enhance competitive positions in the marketplace without experiencing delays, accidents, and costs. It was further the intent of the legislature to discourage drug and alcohol abuse which could lead to denial of unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits.

Generally, the program has adopted drug and alcohol procedures from the United States Department of Transportation, but there are still other requirements that must be followed. Employers should be mindful that Arkansas has passed a Medical Marijuana law; this statute provides certain protections to individuals who hold a Medical Marijuana card.

California (CA)

The State of California has limited drug testing rules and protocols by code or statute.

For most private employers, California does not a have specific set of drug testing rules and protocols to follow when establishing a drug-free workplace policy; however, California’s case law determines which actions private employers can and cannot take regarding drug testing in the workplace.

The California State Constitution includes a right to privacy which extends to employees of privately-owned businesses.

Courts will perform a balancing test between an employer’s legitimate interest in maintaining a safe drug-free work environment and an employee’s right to privacy to determine whether a policy unconstitutionally discriminates against the employee.

In comparison to most other states with conflicts in similar circumstances, courts in California are more likely to rule in favor of an employee’s privacy interest than an employer’s right to drug test.

Colorado (CO)

Under Colorado drug and alcohol testing law, there are few restrictions on employers who implement a drug-free workplace policy.

Colorado has passed statutes allowing the use of Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana. However, courts have recognized that employers are under no obligation to accommodate the use of Marijuana.

Employers should also keep in mind that the level of Marijuana that is considered to be “under the influence” has not been established by case law.

Employers should consider implementing the drug testing requirements under the unemployment statute if it chooses to adopt a drug-free workplace policy in order to successfully deny unemployment benefits to employees in violation of its drug-free workplace policy.

In addition, the City of Boulder has implemented its own drug and alcohol testing requirements for all employers who conduct a business within the city limits. Drug and alcohol testing requests must be supported by reasonable suspicion.

An employer who wishes to implement a drug testing policy must follow The Boulder Municipal Code. Note that the Boulder Municipal Code has implemented exemptions to its code.

Connecticut (CT)

Connecticut has enacted a specific statute that set requirements to private employer drug and alcohol testing.

The importance of an individual’s privacy rights was the key root of the testing in the statute because the only reason allowed for testing is under reasonable suspicion; the statute also explicitly states that employee or prospective employee shall not be supervised while providing specimen.

Random testing in mentioned in the statute but is only under specific requirements. An employer who violates the statute may be sued by the employee or prospective employee and awarded damages.

Employers should also keep in mind that the state has passed its own Medical Marijuana Act, therefore should avoid discriminating against an individual who retains a Medical Marijuana Card.

Under case law, courts have interpreted that individuals who are discharged for testing positive for Marijuana and hold a medical card have a right to a cause of action against an employer. Before drafting a drug testing policy private employers should review all rules and regulations to ensure they are following the state laws.

Delaware (DE)

Under Delaware law, private employers have the right to implement their own drug-testing policy.

 The state does no provide a guide or code that employers need to follow when creating its own testing policies, however, if an employer does want to implement a drug testing policy they should follow general standards.

Employers should also keep in mind that Medical Marijuana is legal in the state of Delaware, therefore should be conscious not to discriminate an individual based on a medical condition even though they might test positive for marijuana.

The Medical Marijuana statute provides protections for employees if an employer discriminates for holding a Medical marijuana card, However, there are exceptions to these protections.

Florida (FL)

This Florida Workplace Drug & Alcohol Testing Laws course provides private employers and interested employees in Florida a summary of the current law in Florida as it relates to drug and alcohol testing.

The course has been designed for the benefit of both legal and non-legal professionals. We have attempted to improve readability by avoiding “legalese” whenever possible and by keeping the important points clear and concise.

Florida drug and alcohol workplace testing laws generally favor a reasonable employer. Florida’s at-will employment law gives employers a great deal of discretion when it comes to hiring and firing their employees.

This means that employers in Florida, by default, have nearly limitless discretion on whether to adopt a policy and if so, how to adopt the rules for their drug-free workplace program.

However, employers who wish to qualify for discounts on their workers’ compensation premiums have the option to opt-in to the voluntary drug-free workplace program under the Workers’ Compensation Statute, Fla. Stat. §440.102. Complying with this statute will narrow the options of the employer on how to conduct the company drug-free workplace policy, but in return allows employers who do adopt the program a 5% discount credit on Workers’ Compensation premiums.

Georgia (GA)

The State of Georgia has statutes that regulate workplace drug and alcohol testing.

Employers in the private sector are not required to follow these regulations but are encouraged to do so in order to receive Workers’ Compensation premium discounts. The intent of the state is to maximize the levels of productivity, enhance competitive positions in the marketplace, and reach desired levels of success without experiencing the costs, delays, and tragedies associated with work-related accidents resulting from employee substance abuse.

The Drug-Free Workplace Program is regulated by the board of Workers’ Compensation and is responsible for issuing certifications that conform to the statute.

The Program created a detailed overview of what is required in an employer’s Drug-Free Workplace policy and is required to meet all the regulations to receive premium discounts. Employers should also review Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation Denial statutes for additional regulations that could be implemented into their Drug-Free Workplace Policy.

The Drug-Free Workplace Program statute guards employee privacy rights to ensure that employers collect specimens in a non-intrusive manner.

The statute also prevents employees from bringing a claim against an employer if the employer chooses not to implement a substance abuse program. It also expresses the importance of confidentiality and makes clear that when an employer implements a drug testing policy there is no physician and the patient relationship created when the employee undergoes a drug or alcohol test.

Hawaii (HI)

Hawaii statute does not regulate the circumstances under which drug and alcohol testing can be conducted but does specify the procedures that must be followed for drug and alcohol testing.

The purpose is to ensure that appropriate and uniform drug and alcohol testing procedures are employed throughout the State, to protect the privacy rights of persons tested, and to achieve reliable and accurate results.

These statutes do not apply to testing regulated by the Hawaii Department of Transportation, the United States Department of Transportation, or any other federal agency. The standards of testing blood alcohol concentration, including personnel qualifications, procedures, and result reporting must be established by the Department of Health.

Idaho (ID)

The Idaho statute allows drug testing by employers and works as a guideline of how employers should create their policies.

The purpose of the act is to promote alcohol and drug-free workplaces and otherwise support employers in their efforts to eliminate substance abuse in the workplace, and thereby enhance workplace safety and increase productivity.

Although the statute states that a workers’ compensation premium discount can be awarded it does not specify the amount; insurers are responsible to determine the percent discount and qualifications, there is no mandatory discount.

The statute makes it clear the testing must be conducted in a manner that complies with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The program limits the cause of actions against employers who rely on positive tests and does not allow any causes of actions if the employer decides not to implement a drug and alcohol testing policy.

Illinois (IL)

Illinois law does not require private employers to implement drug testing policies.

Employers are free to create a policy that conforms with the job requirements. Employers should always be mindful of employees’ right to privacy and disability discrimination when creating a drug-free policy.

If an employer chooses to have a drug-free policy they must comply will all regulations in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

Indiana (IN)

Under Indiana law, private employers can choose to implement a drug free workplace policy.

Indiana statutes allow employers to use the standards in the Federal Department of Transportation regulations and encourage the following of the Federal Drug Free Workplace Act.

Indiana has an Employment Disability Discrimination statute that explicitly states that it does not encourage nor prohibit drug testing in the workplace, but the state does give guidance to employers on what they may do when implementing a drug testing policy.

Iowa (IA)

Under Iowa law implementing a drug-free workplace policy is optional. However, if an employer chooses to implement a drug-free workplace policy it must abide by the state statues.

The statute regulations do not apply to employees who are subjected to the Federal Department of Transportation. The statute is very specific and detailed as to when drug testing can be conducted and the procedures for drug testing.

If employers substantially abide by the rules in the statute, it offers an employer immunity from a lawsuit that may arise under it. Employers are expected to act in a reasonable and in good faith manner when enforcing its drug-free testing policy.

The state of Iowa has also implemented statues that regulate confirmatory laboratories for private sector drug-free workplace testing; employers should ensure that the laboratories performing its drug testing abide by these statutes (see Iowa Admin. Code r. 641-12. (1)-(12) (730).

Kansas (KS)

Under Kansas law there is no mandatory requirement for a private employer to implement a drug-free workplace policy.

Drug testing requirements have been implemented in Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment statutes.

Employers in the private sector are ultimately free to create its own policies but if they wish to deny benefits due to positive test results it must abide by the statute.

Laboratories in Kansas are highly regulated, they must be properly licensed and certified to conduct chemical testing.

Kentucky (KY)

Kentucky has a Drug-Free Workplace program that establishes the requirements for employers to apply and be certified by the Department of Workers’ Claims for implementing a drug-free workplace program.

To promote working environment safety and work productivity employers may be eligible to receive a 5% discount on their workers’ compensation premiums. Application for this discount must be done annually and employers and supervisors must have maintained drug and alcohol training annually.

The law is very comprehensive and provides detailed guidance on drug and alcohol testing. Employers should review the statute to ensure all requirements are complied with before applying for the workers’ compensation discount.

Louisiana (LA)

Under Louisiana law a private employer is only required to follow minimal regulations. However, Louisiana’s Workers Compensation statute and administrative code has set very strict requirements employers must follow in order to deny workers’ compensation benefits.

Following the worker’s compensation and unemployment statute is not mandatory but if followed can provide safety precautions. The statute gives employers liability protection if there is compliance with the rules.

Before implementing a drug-free testing policy employers should review workers’ compensation regulations to ensure they are following with the statute requirements. Louisiana has also passed its own Medical Marijuana Act, which means employers must be mindful not to discriminate against employees with disabilities.

The statute does not specify whether if the employer maintains the right to test. The Medical Marijuana Act has been recently appealed and has amended several terms in the statute, the employer should maintain current in the changing law in order to implement a policy that does not discriminate.

Maine (ME)

If an employer wishes to implement a drug testing policy it must follow Maine’s drug testing laws.

The statute neither requires or encourages drug testing in the workplace but it is in place to protect the rights of employees while allowing employers to administer test.

The statute also geared to ensure that employees with substance abuse problems are given the opportunity for rehabilitation and can return to work as quickly as possible.

The authorizing statute is very specific in many areas; therefore, it is required that the employer use both the statute and Department of Labor and Human Service’s rules in developing a policy. Maine has also implemented an Administrative Code that runs parallel to the main statute.

The Code encourages employers to write the policy as a narrative and sets guidelines on what to include. Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana are legal in the state.

However, employers do not have to accommodate such use. Due to its recent enactment there is barely any case law that addressed the issue of outside conduct and the workplace.

Maryland (MD)

Maryland drug testing laws do not prohibit or enforce employers in the private sector to implement a drug-free workplace policy. However, if employers decide to implement such a policy, it must follow the statute’s rules and regulations.

The statute does not specify under what conditions an employee can be tested for but does regulate how a test can be conducted. The purpose of enacting the statute is to protect employees, employers, and the public by setting fair and effective job-related alcohol and drug testing standards to ensure accurate and reliable test results and promote drug-free workplaces.

There are separate requirements for job-related testing and preliminary testing; the statute allows employers to perform preliminary testing at the workplace.

Medical Marijuana is allowed in the state, so employers should be cautious when performing drug testing to avoid disability discrimination. The statute protects the state for the use of medical marijuana but is silent on whether the statute applies to private employers.

There is currently proposed legislation to include provisions of Medical Marijuana in the Workers Compensation Statute.

Massachusetts (MA)

Massachusetts legislation does not address drug testing in private employment; however case law has specified that random drug testing may be subject to be weighed on a case by case basis and courts will balance the employee’s privacy rights to the employer’s interest.

Massachusetts unemployment law and workers compensation law does not specify drug testing procedures or requirements; therefore, employers are free to implement a policy that conforms with employee positions and job duties.

Marijuana is legal medically and recreationally. An employer with drug testing policy that tests for Marijuana may be subject to a disability discrimination claim under Massachusetts law if the employer takes an adverse employment action or otherwise discriminates against a “qualified handicapped employee” based on the employee’s off-site, off-duty use of lawfully-prescribed medical marijuana.

Michigan (MI)

Under Michigan law, there are very little limits on the rights of private employers to implement their own drug-testing policy. However, tests must be administered in a “nondiscriminatory manner” – this means impartially and objectively in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement, rule, policy, a verbal or written notice, or a labor-management contract.

Private employers should also keep in mind that Medical Marijuana is legal in the State of Michigan. According to Michigan case law, employers retain the right to discharge an employee if they test positive for Marijuana even with a valid prescription.

However, employees discharged for a positive marijuana result with a valid medical card may recover unemployment benefits. Employers should be cautious; other jurisdictions have found this same conduct to be discriminatory against individuals with disabilities.

Minnesota (MN)

Minnesota has a drug testing statute that all employers must follow.

The purpose of the statute is to provide protection of employers, employees, and the public by setting fair and effective job-related alcohol and controlled dangerous substances testing standards to ensure accurate and reliable test results and to promote drug-free workplaces.

The statute specifies that an employer may not request or require and job applicant or employee to undergo drug and alcohol testing on an arbitrary and capricious basis. Case law has developed the meaning that testing must be done rationally. Additionally,

Employers should also keep in mind that Medical Marijuana is legal in the state of Minnesota, therefore should be conscious not to discriminate an individual based on a medical condition even though they might test positive for marijuana.

Mississippi (MS)

Mississippi enacted a Drug-Free workplace program that provides workers’ compensation discount if followed.

This law is voluntary on the part of employers who will only gain its protections if they elect to conduct drug-testing under the law.

The intent of the Legislature to promote drug-free workplaces in order that employers be afforded the opportunity to maximize their levels of productivity, enhance their competitive positions in the marketplace, and reach their desired levels of success without experiencing the costs, delays, and tragedies associated with work-related accidents resulting from substance abuse by employees.

Compliance with the statue is not required to deny workers compensation and unemployment benefits. If an employer opts-in to the program and knowingly or recklessly violates the program, then the employee may raise of cause of action against the employer.

Missouri (MO)

Under Missouri law, there are few restrictions on employers who implement a drug-free workplace policy.

However, employers must follow the requirements under the Missouri Employment Security Law if an employer wants to deny unemployment benefits to employees who test positive for drugs or alcohol.

In December of 2018, Missouri passed statutes allowing the use of Medical Marijuana. The Medical Marijuana Act does not allow claims against employers for discharging or denying employment to employees who are under the influence of Marijuana.

Montana (MT)

Under Montana law there are specific rules private employers must follow to have a qualified drug testing policy.

The statute provides specific guidelines on what to implement in its policy. The statute also provides protections to employees from employers which allow employees to rebut positive drug test results.

If employees have a reasonable explanation or medical opinion for positive test results employees cannot take adverse action against the employee. All drug testing results must remain confidential.

Montana statute has explicitly listed exceptions when drug testing results can be released. Employers should carefully review the state statute and ensure that its policy meets all the requirements.

Nebraska (NE)

Under Nebraska law, private employers are not required to perform drug tests on their employees.

The intent of the Nebraska legislature is to help with the treatment and elimination of drug and alcohol use and abuse in the workplace while protecting employee’s rights.

If an employer chooses to implement a drug testing policy, the employer must abide by Nebraska’s statutory requirements.

The requirements are broad; the statute does not restrict the circumstances in which employers can test employees, rather they set guidelines for specimen collection for drug testing.

Nevada (NV)

Under Nevada law, there are now limitations on private employers’ ability to implement their own drug-testing policy. Workers’ compensation laws in Nevada contain their own drug testing requirements.

Employers are not required to comply unless they wish to deny workers’ or unemployment compensation claims.

Employers should also keep in mind that Medical Marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada; therefore, employers should be conscious not to discriminate against an individual based on a medical condition even though they might test positive for Marijuana.

Beginning on January 1, 2020, employers will be prohibited from conducting pre-employment testing on most employees.

New Hampshire (NH)

Under New Hampshire law there is limited restrictions on employers to implement a drug-free workplace policy.

Employers can freely create a policy that corresponds with work responsibilities and employee’s duties.

New Hampshire has passed statues allowing the use of medical marijuana. However, the Medical Marijuana statute recognized that employers are under no obligation to accommodate the use of Medical Marijuana.

New Jersey (NJ)

Under New Jersey law there are limited rules and regulations limiting the rights of private employers to implement their own drug-testing policies. However, New Jersey case law has reinforced citizen privacy rights under the state constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Employers can only implement random drug testing for “safety sensitive” positions, and courts will analyze whether a position poses a threat to work safety or the public.

New Mexico (NM)

Under New Mexico law there are few restrictions on employers in the implementation of a drug-free workplace policy.

New Mexico has passed statutes allowing the use of Medical Marijuana; however, courts have recognized that employers are under no obligation to accommodate the use of Medical Marijuana in the workplace.

Employers should also keep in mind that New Mexico workers’ compensation law has imposed a few requirements that need to be followed in order to deny or reduce benefits.

An employee can be denied unemployment if they were discharged for misconduct; this means, as the employer, if your drug-free workplace testing policy states that testing positive for a drug test or bringing illicit substances into the workplace is misconduct, then generally unemployment benefits may be denied.

New York (NY)

The State of New York has not passed laws restricting or regulating an employer’s right to require drug testing.

New York State has no legislation that directly addresses drug and alcohol testing for those employed in private corporations or businesses generally.

However, New York has adopted a Workers’ Compensation discount program as an initiative to encourage and reward employers that have implemented or plan to implement a quality, cost-effective safety incentive program, drug and alcohol prevention program, or return-to-work program.

In addition, New York City has enacted laws prohibiting employers from testing for Marijuana in most pre-employment situations.

North Carolina (NC)

The state of North Carolina has implemented regulations of how an employer conducts drug testing; however, these regulations do not state under what circumstances an employer can conduct a test.

Employers have no duty to conduct controlled substance examinations. If an employer has employees that fall under FDOT regulations, then the North Carolina statue regulations will not apply to its drug testing policy.

North Carolina has also implemented an administrative code that add additional requirements to employers when implementing a drug testing policy.

North Dakota (ND)

Under North Dakota law there is limited restrictions on employers to implement a drug-free workplace policy.

North Dakota has passed statues allowing the use of medical marijuana. However, the statute states that the Act does not intervene with an employer’s ability to discipline and employee who uses Marijuana on the premises or reports to work under the influence.

North Dakotas worker’s compensation statute sets a few requirements that employers must abide if they want to deny benefits to employees who are injured due to their voluntary intoxication.

The unemployment statute does not provide any rules required for drug testing; employers are still required to inform employees that a violation of work policy including a drug testing policy is considered misconduct.

Ohio (OH)

Under Ohio law, there are no requirements for private employers to implement a drug-free testing policy.

However, the State of Ohio does encourage employers to implement such a policy by providing Workers’ Compensation premium discounts for implementing a policy that follows Ohio’s Drug-Free Safety Program.

The Ohio statute has set the eligibility requirements and type of programs available for employers to choose from. The program overall follows federal regulations.

In Ohio, drug and alcohol addiction is considered a disability so employers cannot discriminate against an employee if he or she informs them of their addiction.

Additionally, Ohio employers should keep in mind that Medical Marijuana is legal in the state; however, employers can still test for Marijuana and its metabolites and discharge employees for positive results.

The Medical Marijuana statute implements protections for employers such as defining positive test results as “just cause” for termination and does not allow a cause of action against an employer for discharging or refusing to hire an employee who tests positive despite having a Medical Marijuana card.

Oklahoma (OK)

Oklahoma has in place a drug and alcohol testing statute for employers who want to implement this type of testing in its business.

Employers are required by law to follow the regulations if testing is implemented. The law provides several remedies to employees when an employer fails to properly follow the statute. Oklahoma has also passed Medical Marijuana; employers should take caution to ensure that they do no discriminate employees or prospective employees who carry a Medical Marijuana card.

The statute protects individuals from being discharged if their drug test comes back positive for marijuana. However, the statute lists several exceptions when an employee can take action against an employee who does test positive.

Oregon (OR)

Under Oregon law, there are limited restrictions on employers to implement a drug-free workplace policy.

Although there are limited restrictions on employer drug testing, the state has created detailed laboratory regulations that can impact employment testing.

If an employer chooses to provide instant testing, there are specific rules and types of instant testing that must be used. Oregon has passed statues allowing the use of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

The Oregon courts have recognized that employers are under no obligation to accommodate the use of marijuana.

Pennsylvania (PA)

Under Pennsylvania law, there is no legislation that limits private employers to implement their own drug-testing policy.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ensures that a drug testing policy will be upheld as long as there is no violation of the law or the collective bargaining agreement.

Rhode Island (RI)

Under Rhode Island law, employers may drug test employees if reasonable grounds exist to indicate that the employees are under the influence of controlled substances or impaired while performing their job.

This means random testing is not allowed. The employee drug testing statute also imposes consequences for employers who do not follow the requirements in the statute.

Employers should also keep in mind that Medical Marijuana is legal in the state of Rhode Island, therefore it should be conscious not to discriminate an individual based on a medical condition even though they might test positive for marijuana. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island has already ruled that a job applicant cannot be refused employment if he or she holds a Medical Marijuana card.

South Carolina (SC)

The State of South Carolina has implemented drug and alcohol testing regulations which include a provision for obtaining a discount on workers’ compensation premiums; however, these regulations do not mandate all circumstances in which an employer can conduct a test.

South Carolina adopted this voluntary statute to encourage employers in the state to adopt drug prevention programs in the workplace. However, employers are not obligated to follow the discount program.

For those who opt-in, the program does require random drug testing on all paid employees. Marijuana remains illegal for medical and recreational use.

South Dakota (SD)

Under South Dakota law there are no restrictions on an employer to implement their own drug-testing policy.

Workers’ compensation laws in South Dakota state that workers compensation claims can be denied if intoxication caused the injury; However, employers have the burden to prove that the intoxication was the proximate cause and a substantial factor of the injury.

Marijuana remains illegal recreationally and medically in South Dakota.

Tennessee (TN)

Tennessee has a voluntary drug testing law.

For companies that wish to qualify for 5% discount of its workers’ compensation premiums, they must comply with the requirements under the statute. This program is completely voluntarily, but if an employer does not comply, workers’ compensation and unemployment claims arising out of positive drug test results will not be denied.

Tennessee created the Drug-Free Workplace Program to maximize the levels of productivity, enhance their competitive positions in the marketplace and reach desired levels of success without experiencing the costs, delays, and tragedies associated with work-related accidents resulting from drug or alcohol abuse by employees.

Employers are required to provide training and education of its drug testing policy only once and must submit a certification to the Bureau of Workers Compensation. This certification is renewed annually but retraining is not required.

Texas (TX)

Under Texas law there is very little limitation placed on private employers in the implementation of a drug-free workplace policy.

An employer can perform a drug test for a wide variety of reasons including in pre-employment context, as part of a random testing program, after a qualifying accident, under reasonable suspicion, or as part of a return-to-duty agreement.

However, the State of Texas requires certain elements to be met when implementing a drug testing policy in order to qualify for certain unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits.

Employers must give adequate notice and have implemented a proper procedure for including chain of custody for testing for drug and alcohol tests.

Utah (UT)

Under Utah law, there are drug and alcohol testing requirements that an employer must follow if they wish to have the protection it offers.

The intent when creating the statute was to provide a healthy, safe, and productive workplace, free from the effect of drugs and alcohol. The importance of producing quality products and services is important to employers, employees and the general public.

The legislature found that there was an increased risk of injuries, absenteeism and financial burdens that were created by drug and alcohol abuse and to prevent this was the statute was created. Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation benefits can be denied if the employer followed the requirements under the drug and alcohol statute; They must also follow all the requirements under the specific unemployment or workers comp. statute as well.

An employee may seek damages or job reinstatement if the employer’s test results were inaccurate. Overall the statute prevents an employee to bring a lawsuit to the employer who complies with the rules in the statute.

Virginia (VA)

Under Virginia law, there are almost no limitations of private employers to implement their own drug-testing policy. The state does provide employers workers’ compensation discounts if a drug-free workplace policy is implemented but gives discretion for the requirements to employers and its insurers. Virginia statute also allows workers compensation and unemployment denial but there are few restrictions of the requirements employers must meet.

Washington (WA)

Under Washington law, there are few restrictions on employers who implement a drug-free workplace policy. Washington has passed statutes allowing the use of Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana. However, courts have recognized that employers are under no obligation to accommodate the use of Marijuana. Employers should also keep in mind that there is no statute that will automatically deny workers’ compensation for testing positive for Marijuana. An employee can be denied unemployment if the employee was discharged for misconduct. This means, as the employer, if your drug testing policy states that testing positive for drug or alcohol is misconduct amounting to a terminable offense, then unemployment benefits may be denied.

West Virginia (WV)

West Virginia has incorporated the Safer Workplace Act, which provides a broad spectrum of when employers can drug test. Employers who abide by the statute are given immunities. The statute makes it clear that an individual right to privacy is outweighed by public policy, as long as the employer abides by the statute. Case law has set restrictions on when there is no right to privacy. Employers should also carefully consider privacy and employee drug testing in West Virginia and how they handle employees who test positive. The Act also provides employers another gate for unemployment and workers’ compensation denial. Medical Marijuana is legal in West Virginia, the act provides protection to employees who hold a medical marijuana card unless they report to work under the influence of Medical Marijuana. Employers should advise with legal counsel before implementing a drug testing policy to ensure all provisions in the statute are included and followed.

Wisconsin (WI)

Under Wisconsin law, there are very little limitations on the ability of private employers to implement their own drug testing policy. However, Wisconsin’s Workers’ Compensation statute indicates that employers should expect employees to obey reasonable substance use and abuse policies and provide notice to its employees of those rules. The only major restriction of mandatory drug testing is on contractors who are awarded public works contracts. Contractors are required to follow the regulations under substance abuse prevention on public works and public utility projects statutes.

Wyoming (WY)

Wyoming has a voluntary drug testing law. For companies that wish to qualify for a 10% discount on their workers’ compensation premiums, they must comply with this law. The Wyoming statute only provides the discount program and information on how employers can submit an application. The Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Division consists of several regulations that explain drug and alcohol procedures. Generally, the Wyoming statute follows the United States Department of Transportation guidelines. Medical and Recreational Marijuana remains illegal in the state.

Puerto Rico (PR)

Puerto Rico implemented a drug testing statute that private employers must follow.

The intention of the statute is to promote the health and safety of workers and, consequently of the community in general, providing the safeguards needed for the protection of the intimacy and personal integrity of the individual thus affected.

The statute does not mention alcohol testing, but it is not expressly prohibited by law. Employers should review the statute carefully because it lists several positions that require mandatory testing. 

The statute allows different modes of testing, the way it has been written can be inferred that the most appropriate mode of testing is using urine.

Puerto Rico passed its own Medical Marijuana Act, however nothing in the statute prevents employers from testing for Marijuana or its metabolites.

Drug Testing Glossary of Terms and Definitions

Explore our comprehensive drug testing glossary, terminology, definitions, & vocabulary for drug testing professionals, human resources & employers.

Below you will find the most common and widely used industry terminology:

49 CFR Part 40: A DOT regulation that specifies how workplace drug and alcohol testing should be conducted and under what conditions an employee can be returned to duties after they have violated drug and alcohol regulations.  49 CFR Part 40 applies to all modes of federally regulated transportation.

Accession number:  An alpha-numeric code assigned to a lab sample that allows the lab technician to match the sample with the donor while still maintaining the donor’s privacy.  At the end of the process, the employer or agency that ordered the test is able to match the assigned code with the donor, ensuring the donor’s privacy as the specimen passes through the laboratory and testing process.

Adulterated specimen:  A urine or oral fluid specimen that has been altered or tampered with in some way in an effort to prevent a positive drug screen.  There are a variety of ways in which a specimen can be altered, including substitution (using someone else’s urine instead of the person being tested), addition of commercially sold “masking agents,” or dilution of the sample (watering it down–internally or externally).  A validity test is often the first step in a drug test, in order to determine whether the sample is valid for testing.  If the initial test shows the sample to be adulterated, a second validity test may be conducted in order to confirm these findings.

Affidavit:A legal document, usually a written statement, that certifies that the information being given is true and accurate.  It is enforceable by law and can be used in court.  An affidavit must be signed voluntarily and in the presence of a notary public or other similar court official. Affidavits are required in DOT drug testing scenarios where a collector has made a “correctable flaw” and the collector attests to the missing or incorrect information. The Federal Transit Administration provides an example “Collection Site Drug Test Affidavit” form visit: (external link to download)

Air Blank: A test of a sample of air around a testing device conducted by an Alcohol Screening Device (ASD) or an Evidential Breath Testing Device (EBT) used to verify that there is no residual alcohol in the device from a previous test and that there is no alcohol in the environment that could affect the accuracy of the test. The ability to perform an air blank prior to a confirmation test is one of the requirements to be listed on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Conforming Products List (NHTSA CPL) as an approved Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) device.

Alcohol Tests

Alcohol Screening Test: In workplace testing, the Alcohol Screening Test is an initial test to determine if there may be any alcohol in the breath or saliva of an employee selected for testing. The concentration of alcohol in the breath or saliva is correlative of the concentration of alcohol in the blood; however, saliva may only be used for initial testing (called a screening), not for confirmation. No action may be taken or determination may be made based on the results of a screening test alone as one test does not rule out all possible external influences on the testing process such as the recent use of hand sanitizer or listerine. A device used to conduct an Alcohol Screening Tests only is called an Alcohol Screening Device (ASD), a device that can conduct both the screening and the confirmation test is called an Evidential Breath Testing device or EBT device.In general medical applications, an alcohol screening test is a brief survey tool that is often used by physicians to help determine a person’s level of alcohol dependence.  This screening tool can help a person determine whether they are likely to have a drinking condition, but it can also help determine a person’s risk of developing alcohol dependence in the future.  A person that is determined to be at risk may need further testing in order to establish a diagnosis.

Alcohol Confirmation Test:  A confirmation test is generally performed after an initial screening test has produced a positive result for alcohol.  In order to rule out any concern that the initial test was positive due to residual mouth alcohol or other external influences, the alcohol technician must wait 15 minutes after the first screen before conducting the alcohol confirmation test.  Using an Evidential Breath Testing device (EBT) approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on their Conforming Products List (CPL)  that prints results and can distinguish between alcohol (ethanol) and other similar compounds like acetone/ethyl acetate (chemicals sometimes produced by diabetics) is the most definitive method of conducting an alcohol confirmation test and is therefore required by the DOT. The current list of approved EBT devices can be found here: https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/approved-evidential-breath-testing-devices

Alcohol Testing Devices

Alcohol Screening Device (ASD):  A variety of different devices that may be used to screen for alcohol on the breath or in bodily fluids such as saliva. The DOT utilizes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Conforming Products List (NHTSA CPL) published on the federal register for its list of approved Alcohol Screening devices. These devices can only perform the initial alcohol screening test. If the screening device detects alcohol above the limit defined then a confirmation test must be conducted using an Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) device.

Evidential Breath Testing Device (EBT):  An EBT device measures the alcohol level of a person by measuring the concentration of alcohol in the breath.  The concentration of ethanol (alcohol) in the breath (particularly the “alveolar breath” or deep lung air) correlates to the concentration of alcohol in the blood; therefore, it is possible to measure blood alcohol levels with this device. EBT devices that appear on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Conforming Products list (NHTSA CPL) are approved by the DOT. Some of the requirements to be published on the NHTSA CPL as an approved EBT are an ability to provide a print out of the results, ability to distinguish between ethanol and acetate/acetone, ability to conduct an air blank prior to a confirmation test, and an ability to assign a unique test number to each test conducted.

Alcohol Testing Site:  The location where workplace alcohol testing is conducted by a Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) or Screening Test Technician (STT).

Alcohol Testing Technicians:

Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT):  A BAT conducts alcohol screening and confirmation on behalf of the employer under the required protocols for testing. A DOT qualified BAT will be capable of conducting alcohol screening and confirmation under DOT protocols in accordance with the 49 CFR Part 40. This technician offers instruction and assistance to employees during the alcohol testing process and can only operate the ASD (alcohol screening device) or EBT (evidential breath testing device) they are trained on.

Screening Test Technician (STT): An STT is an alcohol testing technician who is qualified only to conduct an initial test (known as an alcohol screening test) using an Alcohol Screening Device (ASD). Since the ASD can only conduct a screening and not the confirmation, the STT can’t conduct a confirmation test which must be conducted by a Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) using an Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) device when a screening result exceeds the minimum breath alcohol concentration (BrAC).

Blind Specimen:  A blind specimen, also called a blind performance test specimen, is used to ensure quality control in a laboratory environment.  The specimens are submitted under a false name so that they cannot be distinguished from other valid specimens.  These blind specimens will include both positive and negative (adulterated) samples that are chosen to target specific drugs.  This ensures that the chosen lab maintains an accurate testing environment and that all test results are valid and dependable. In November of 2017 the DOT published changes to the 49 CFR Part 40 which, effective January of 2018, removes the requirement for blind specimen testing of laboratories certified by SAMHSA.

Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC):  A measure of the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath.  By measuring the level of alcohol present in the breath, it is possible to use a conversion factor called the blood:breath ratio to determine a person’s blood alcohol level (BAC).  It is often measured by what is referred to as a “breathalyzer” test.

Cancelled Test:  A cancelled test is found to be neither positive nor negative by the lab.  There are a variety of issues that can cause a laboratory to cancel a test and may require the employee to submit another specimen for testing.  A cancelled test cannot be held against an employee; however, it also does not count toward compliance with DOT requirements or an employer’s minimum random testing rate. If the test is cancelled as a result of collector error, that collector must undergo “error correction training” in accordance with 49 CFR Part 40.33.

Chain of Custody:  A set of protocols put into place to reduce the chances that anything could happen to interfere with a test such as substitution, adulteration, or other possible negative outcomes such as a lost specimen. Because the results of a drug or alcohol screen can have life-changing consequences, it is imperative that a strict chain of custody procedure is used and that  movement and handling of the specimen is documented from start to finish.  The documentation should account for the collection, transfer, analysis, storage, and disposal of the sample.  Procedures must be in place to ensure that there is no tampering of the specimen and that the specimen has no opportunity to be confused with any other specimen. Proper adherence to the established “Chain of Custody” procedures help solidify the legality of results received from tests conducted using chain of custody protocols.

Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA):  Federal regulatory standards, introduced in 1988, that are applicable to all human clinical lab tests performed in the US.  CLIA, however,  does not apply to clinical trials and research.

CLIA Waived:  Simple procedures with a low risk of error that are not subject to CLIA standards.  CLIA waived tests can allow for more rapidly processed results, portability of tests (including some non-traditional test sites), and requires a lower training standard for the technicians conducting the tests.

Clinic:  An outpatient healthcare facility offering ambulatory medical treatment, testing, and advice.

Collection Container:  Container provided for the purpose of holding a variety of specimens, including urine, blood, hair, oral fluids, and other body samples.

Collection Site:  A site that is deemed suitable and that meets all requirements for DOT drug and/or alcohol testing.  The site meets all standards as set out by 49 CFR Part 40.  Collection sites are usually located at physicians’ offices or clinics, local hospitals, or commercial collection sites; however, it is possible to establish a collection site on the employer’s premises if it meets all requirements set out by 49 CFR Part 40.

Collector: A trained and qualified employee at the collection site that assists and instructs employees with the collection and shipping of samples. The collector is in charge of maintaining the integrity of the specimen between collection and the test itself using chain of custody protocols.

CPC Designations

CPC (Certified Professional Collector):  CPC is a designation invented by the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). It signifies to the public and employers who would use a collector’s services that the collector has been trained in accordance with DATIA’s standards for collection under federal protocols. CPCs must be trained by a CPC-T (Certified Professional Collector Trainer) or a Regional Certified Professional Collector Trainer (R-CPCT).

CPC-T: An individual who meets DATIA’s requirements for training Certified Professional Collectors, but is approved by DATIA to only conduct training and award CPC designations to those collectors within the CPC-T’s organization.

R-CPCT: An individual who meets DATIA’s requirements for training Certified Professional Collectors and is approved by DATIA to conduct training and award CPC designations to those collectors within the R-CPCT’s organization and to collectors outside of the organization, but is not allowed to award CPC-T designations. CPC-T designations can only be earned from a DATIA-sponsored training events.

Confirmation Test:  Also known as “definitive testing,” a confirmation test provides additional drug/alcohol analysis that is conducted in an effort to provide definitive or confirmatory results on a presumptive-positive drug or alcohol screen. The confirmation test is also sometimes utilized to check for drugs that were not tested in the initial screening or to confirm negative results (however, confirming negative results is either allowed or required only in a minority of jurisdictions).  Confirmation tests are far more sensitive than drug screens (meaning they will generally have a lower cut-off level) and can test for much specific quantitative concentration information; however, they typically take much longer and cost significantly more than initial drug screens.

Confirmation Validity Test:  According to 10 CFR 26.5 [Title 10 – Energy; Chapter I — Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Part 26 — Fitness For Duty Programs; Subpart A — Administrative Provisions], the term confirmatory validity test means “a second test performed on a different aliquot of the original urine specimen to further support a validity test result.” In other words, a confirmation validity test “confirms” that the initial specimen validity test was accurate.

Consortium/Third Party Administrator (C/TPA):  A service agent, typically an agency, hired to manage a portion of a company’s DOT and/or Non-DOT drug and alcohol testing program.  The C/TPA may oversee the implementation of the employer’s drug testing program while providing advice and assistance with drug and alcohol testing regulatory compliance.  The C/TPA may also implement testing procedures and maintain test results in accordance with all current rules and policies. However, the employer cannot discharge regulatory liability and is ultimately responsible for any responsibilities delegated to a C/TPA.

Continuing Education:  Courses offered to adults, usually in a particular field of interest.  These courses are often required by employers in order for employees to maintain current knowledge of any new or changing industry standards and requirements.  After completion of a course, employees are usually given credit for the course in CEUs (continuing education units.)  Many companies require an employee to take a minimum number of CEUs per year. Some drug and alcohol testing courses may qualify for continuing education credits for professions such as human resources and nursing.

Control Line:  When utilizing an enzymatic drug screening device such as a Point of Collection Test (POCT), the control line validates that the test is working properly. If it appears, then the test is said to be valid, if it does not appear, then the test is considered invalid and a new test must be conducted using a new device.

Correctable Flaw:   Flaws in the drug or alcohol testing procedure that can be corrected without having to cancel or invalidate a test. However, if they go uncorrected they will result in a canceled test. Corrections must be made by the end of the same business day. Some issues that would be considered correctable flaws are: an omitted signature on the drug testing form or not marking the temperature of the specimen on the form.

Covered Employee:  DOT employees that are considered to have safety-sensitive jobs.  These employees are subject to drug and alcohol testing, as outlined in 49 CFR Part 40.  Covered employees must not report for duty while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or greater.  The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 requires that employees who perform safety-sensitive jobs in the aviation, motor carrier, railroad, and mass transit industries be tested for the misuse of drugs and alcohol. Currently,DOT covered employees work with companies regulated by the FMCSA, FAA, FRA, FTA, PHMSA, and the USCG.

Creatine:  Creatine is an amino acid produced by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, though it can also be made synthetically and is sometimes taken orally to improve athletic performance.  It supplies energy for muscle contraction and is absorbed through foods like red meat and seafood. When testing a urine specimen for validity, the concentration of creatinine in the sample can indicate that a sample is not real human urine or that the specimen is diluted human urine.

Cutoff Level:  The cutoff level is the number that is predetermined to be the threshold between “presumptive-positive” and negative on drug and alcohol screens; the number varies based on the substance being tested.   Anything at or above the cutoff level is considered a presumptive-positive test.  The cut-off level for the initial screen is often a higher threshold than the number for the confirmation test.

Drug and Alcohol-Free Workplace Policy (DAFWP):  A policy set forth by a company in order to protect all employees’ safety and ensure minimum risk in the work environment.  In an effort to maintain this environment, an employer will provide education about drug and alcohol abuse and will also conduct drug screens for a variety of reasons in order to maintain a workplace that is free from drug and alcohol misuse.

Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA):  DATIA is an organization that provides education, resources, and advocacy to anyone involved in drug and alcohol testing.  They strive to maintain consistency throughout the drug testing community, maintain industry standards, and assist in resolving common problems affecting the drug screening/testing community. To accomplish these goals, DATIA lobbies political representatives and works as an advisor to lawmakers proposing changes to drug and alcohol testing laws and regulations.

Designated Employer Representative (DER):  As defined in 49 CFR Part 40, the Designated Employer Representative (DER) is an employee authorized by the employer (sometimes the owner of the company) to make required decisions in the drug and alcohol testing and evaluation processes such as taking immediate action to remove employees from safety-sensitive duties and maintaining testing records. The DER cannot be a service agent.  The DER is responsible for maintaining all 49 CFR part 40 regulations and for administering the drug and alcohol program within the workplace. This includes receiving all test results and taking prompt action on any positive test result or refusal determination.

Detection Period:  Sometimes referred to as the “window of detection,” the detection period is the amount of time that a drug will remain detectable in a specimen at or above the cutoff level.  There is a period of time immediately before and immediately after the detection period in which a substance’s metabolites may be present in a sample, but would be undetected because the concentration would be below the cutoff level. The amount used, frequency of use, and nature of the drug itself often affects the amount of time that a substance remains detectable in a specimen.

Department of Transportation (DOT):  Established in October 1966 by Congress, the mission of the DOT is “to serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.”

DOT drug and alcohol testing applies to employees who will be working with an employer regulated by the Department of Transportation in a safety-sensitive function as part of their job. DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations are detailed in the federal register under what is known as the “49 CFR Part 40.” This means that  DOT testing falls under federal (not state) rules for drug testing. Though they are stringent in what they do test for, they don’t necessarily test for an expansive range of illegal substances. Most DOT tests screen for five major drug groups:  cocaine, marijuana, opiates (including four semi-synthetic opioids), PCP, and amphetamines/methamphetamines. These are the drugs tested for under the Department of Transportation (DOT) mandated testing regulations and have become an industry standard as a general minimum adopted by many state drug testing programs.  The procedure for collecting a urine, breath, or saliva specimen as outlined in 49 CFR Part 40 is thorough and must be strictly followed whenever a DOT-required specimen collection or test is performed. These procedures apply only to DOT-required testing, but are sometimes adopted by individual state law or company policy.

Drug Metabolites:  A metabolite is a byproduct of the metabolization process, which is when the body breaks down and subsequently absorbs a substance when it enters the body.  The chemical composition and structure of a drug and its resulting metabolite are almost always distinct–this is why drug tests screen for metabolites rather than the original substances.

Error Correction Training:  If a collector, breath alcohol technician, or screening test technician makes a mistake in the testing process that causes a drug or alcohol test to be cancelled, the collector would then be required to undergo error correction training. The training would be specific to the area in which the error occurred followed by three proficiency demonstrations: one uneventful and two specific to the cause of the canceled test.

Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG):  The EtG test is a commonly used biomarker screening that detects the presence of ethyl glucuronide in urine samples as well as in blood, hair and nails. The test measures short-term alcohol use and is used to document required alcohol abstinence. An Etg test can produce positive results from exposure to certain household products such as aftershave, mouthwash, breath sprays, and cleaning products. It is currently not an accepted testing modality for most workplace testing.

ETS:  ETS is a biomarker of ethanol in addition to EtG.  Measured conjointly with EtG, the detection of both biomarkers lends more validity and offers greater accuracy to the test results, indicating a lack of alcohol abstinence.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):   A division of the US Department of Transportation, the FAA is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the safety, rules, and regulations of civil aviation and the National Airspace System in the U.S.  The agency was first created by the Federal Aviation Act in 1958 and was known under that name until 1967 when, after the formation of the DOT, Congress changed the agency’s name to the Federal Aviation Administration.  Employees covered by the 49 CFR Part 40 as “safety-sensitive” include pilots, flight crew, certain ground crew, and air traffic controllers.

Fatal Flaw:  An error in the drug testing process that cannot be corrected and results in the test being cancelled.  Fatal flaws usually result from improper handling and/or labeling of specimens.  Fatal flaws include issues such as broken or missing seals, egregiously incomplete paperwork, an ID number that does not match the chain of custody paperwork, or concerns with the chain of custody itself.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):  The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on January 1, 2000. The primary goal of FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.  In carrying out its safety mandate to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses, FMCSA:

  • Develops and enforces regulations that balance motor carrier (truck and bus companies) safety with efficiency;
  • Harnesses safety information systems to focus on higher risk carriers in enforcing the safety regulations;
  • Targets educational messages to carriers, commercial drivers, and the public; and
  • Partners with stakeholders including Federal, State, and local enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, safety groups, and organized labor on efforts to reduce bus and truck-related crashes.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA):  The FRA is an agency within the DOT and was created as part of the DOT Act of 1966.  The primary purpose of the FRA is to create and enforce rail safety and regulations, oversee railroad assistance programs, research and develop improved railroad safety, develop a comprehensive plan for improving the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and consolidate government support of rail transportation.

Federal Transit Administration  (FTA):  The FTA is an agency within the DOT. The FTA provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems, including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, trolleys and ferries. FTA also oversees safety measures and helps research and develop new technology in the field of transit.  According to the FTA website, they have partnered with state and local governments since 1964 to create and enhance public transportation systems, investing more than $12 billion annually to support and expand public rail, bus, trolley, ferry and other transit services. The FTA is headed by an administrator appointed by the President of the United States. FTA is one of DOT’s 10 modes of transportation.  Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. as well as 10 regional offices that assist transit agencies throughout all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS):  A mode of quantitative testing used to determine the concentration of specified chemical compounds such as ethanol (alcohol) or drug metabolites in a specimen. This type of testing is most often used for confirmation testing rather than screening.

Health and Human Services (HHS):  According to their website, it is the mission of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. We (HHS) fulfill that mission by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.  In addition to maintaining a list of certified laboratories under SAMHSA, HHS regulations cover certain federally-regulated employees not covered under DOT regulations. These regulations are substantially similar to DOT regulations, but do involve some important distinctions such as requiring an observer to have been trained prior to a collection conducted under direct observation.

Immunoassay:  Immunoassay tests use antibodies to detect the presence of drugs and their metabolites in blood and other body fluids. These tests are the preferred initial screening tests because they can be processed quickly and are inexpensive.  The most commonly ordered drug screens are for cocaine metabolites, amphetamines, phencyclidine, marijuana metabolites, and opiate metabolites.   Immunoassays are based on the principles that specific antigens will stimulate highly specific immune responses and that the proteins (antibodies) produced by that immune response can be used to signal the presence of a target compound in a specimen.

Initial Drug Screen:  This is the initial phase of drug testing.  During the initial screen, tests are conducted to determine whether the sample is potentially positive.  If a sample is found to have a presumptive positive result during this phase, the initial drug test will undergo a second round of testing to confirm the presence of drugs or drug metabolites in the sample.

Instrumental Initial Testing Facility (IITF): Under HHS drug testing protocols, SAMHSA is authorized to certify a facility as an intermediary facility capable of receiving specimens under HHS protocols. The DOT regulations prohibit the use of an IITF.

Initial Validity Test:  An initial validity test is the first attempt to determine if a specimen has been adulterated, substituted, or diluted. If the specimen fails the initial validity test a second validity test will be conducted, known as a confirmation validity test. If the confirmation validity test indicates the sample is invalid, the sample is deemed unacceptable for drug testing.  The sample may have abnormal physical characteristics, abnormal levels in properties of the urine, or unknown substances present that would prohibit the testing from being conducted.

Instant Test Kit:   Drug testing kits that can be used at a remote location, workplace, or a collection site.  The test results are delivered rapidly and can save employers time and money.  Instant or on-site drug testing is not allowed for DOT regulated drug testing and is also prohibited in many states for non-federal or Non-DOT testing.

Invalid Drug Test:   Refers to the laboratory results for a urine or bodily fluid sample that contains an unidentified adulterant, contains an unidentified interfering substance, has an abnormal physical characteristic, or contains a substance at an abnormal concentration that prevents the laboratory from completing the testing.  An invalid test is considered neither positive or negative.  In the case of an invalid result, the MRO (medical review officer) would interview the donor to try and determine if there is a credible explanation for the invalid results.  49 CFR 40 provides guidance on what to do in the event of an invalid drug test under DOT protocols.

Laboratory:  In drug testing, the laboratory is responsible for completing the chain of custody protocols by receiving a specimen, inspecting and documenting its condition, verifying its integrity, and then testing the specimen for the presence of drugs and their metabolites. In Non-DOT testing, any laboratory the state deems qualified to test may conduct drug tests on samples submitted for workplace testing. However, only drug testing laboratories or IITFs certified by SAMHSA, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, may receive urine specimens and test them to determine the presence of drugs under federal protocols for covered employees. SAMHSA-Certified laboratories also conduct validity testing to determine if the specimen has been adulterated or substituted.  US laboratories are only permitted to participate in DOT drug testing  if they are certified by HHS under the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) or in the case of a foreign laboratory, if it is approved for participation by the DOT with respect to Part 40.

Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS):  LC-MS is a highly sensitive analytical chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography (or HPLC) with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry (MS).  Following a positive immunoassay or broad spectrum drug screen, it is widely used in confirmatory toxicology testing and is used to identify a wide range of drugs and their metabolites.  LC-MS is commonly used in the field of bioanalysis and is particularly applicable in pharmacokinetic studies of pharmaceuticals. Pharmacokinetic studies can determine how quickly a drug will be cleared from the body.

Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS):  LC/MS/MS is a confirmatory technique that allows for the detection of a wide range of compounds at lower concentrations than other techniques.  Unlike point of care urine cups or immunoassay screening techniques, the LC-MS/MS allows for identification of a specific compound.  Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry is a powerful analytical technique that combines the unique separating power of liquid chromatography with the highly sensitive and selective mass analysis capability of triple quadrupole mass spectrometry, providing optimum levels of sensitivity and accuracy.

Limit of Detection (LOD):  The Limit of Detection is an estimate of the minimum amount of a substance that an analytical process can reliably detect.  The LOD is the smallest amount or concentration of a particular substance that must be present in a sample in order to be detected at a 99% level of confidence.  Accrediting organizations require laboratories to identify the LOD of a method as part of the method or instrument certification process. This is not to be confused with a device’s cut-off level, which will always be higher than any testing method’s “LOD.”

Monitored Collection:   Monitored collections occur when the collection takes place in a multi-stall restroom facility. The collector goes into the restroom with the donor, but the donor enters the stall alone and is allowed to close the door. It is preferred that the collector be the same sex as the donor, but it is not required if the collector is classified as a medical professional.  Monitored collections allow the collector to only have to secure one stall in the multi-stall facility rather than securing every individual stall and sink in the multi-stall facility.

Medical Review Officer (MRO):  A Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a licensed physician who is responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory results from an employer’s drug testing program.  An MRO acts as an independent and neutral advocate for the accuracy and integrity of the drug testing process. They provide quality assurance review of the drug testing process for the specimens under their watch, determine if there is a legitimate medical explanation for laboratory confirmed positive, adulterated, substituted and invalid drug test results, ensure the timely release of test results to employers, and protect the confidentiality of the information in their care.

Negative result:  A negative test result means that the concentrations in the blood or fluid sample are below the designated cut-off levels for the particular substance that was tested. A negative drug test result does not always mean there are no drugs present in the person being tested; it just indicates that there are not drugs present above the cut-off level. Some laboratories allow drug tests to be conducted on samples on their LOD rather than their cutoff levels to report lower concentrations than cut-off levels.

National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA):  According to their website, the mission of NIDA is “to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health. This involves strategically supporting and conducting basic and clinical research on drug use (including nicotine), its consequences, and the underlying neurobiological, behavioral, and social mechanisms involved.  It also involves ensuring the effective translation, implementation, and dissemination of scientific research findings to improve the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and enhance public awareness of addiction as a brain disorder.”

Non-DOT Drug Testing:  Non-DOT drug testing is a catch-all term for testing conducted under local jurisdiction-specific protocols rather than federal protocols. A Non-DOT drug test can consist of a 5 drug panel like DOT or be expanded to as many panels as the state or local jurisdiction will allow. Non-DOT employers can also often choose to test for hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, prescription painkillers and ecstasy.  Non-regulated drug testing gives employers the freedom to choose the type of specimen they want to test (urine, hair saliva, blood) and to develop a drug testing program without the strict requirements of the federal government.  It is common for companies and organizations with employees not regulated by federal protocols to choose to adopt 49 CFR Part 40 procedures for their own Non-DOT drug and alcohol testing programs, but then elect to expand upon federal regulations in order to include testing for a wider variety of drugs or to include instant testing as allowed by the local jurisdiction.

Non-Negative Specimen:  This term is almost exclusively utilized in instant or rapid testing under Non-DOT protocols. It refers to a drug screening with a presumptive-positive result which must then be sent to a laboratory for confirmation.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC):  According to their website, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was “created as an independent agency by Congress in 1974 to ensure the safe use of radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes while protecting people and the environment. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials, such as in nuclear medicine, through licensing, inspection and enforcement of its requirements.”  The NRC as a federal agency maintains its own set of protocols for drug and alcohol testing for employees regulated by the NRC in safety-sensitive functions.

Observed Collection:  A directly observed collection procedure is the same as a routine collection procedure with the additional requirement that an observer personally observe the urine go from the employee’s body into the collection container after inspecting the individual for anything they could possibly use to manipulate the collection. The observer must be the same gender as the employee and there are no exceptions to this requirement.  An observed collection may be warranted for one of several reasons: (1) an MRO reported that a result was invalid for no explainable reason; (2) the original positive, adulterated, or substituted result had to be cancelled because the test of the split specimen could not be performed; (3) the specimen was reported as a negative dilute; (4) the collector determined that the first specimen provided during a collection may have been adulterated or substituted; or (5)the test is a return-to-duty or follow-up test. If the observer is not the collector, the observer does not handle the specimen, but maintains constant eye contact with the specimen as it is delivered to the collector by the employee. Due to concerns over privacy, some states prohibit the use of an observed collection unless conducting a DOT collection.

Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC):  According to their website, the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance “advises the Secretary [of Transportation] on national and international drug testing and control issues and is the principal advisor to the Secretary on rules related to the drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines, and other transportation industries. The Office publishes regulations and provides official interpretations on drug and alcohol testing, including how to conduct tests, and the evaluation and treatment procedures necessary for returning employees to duty after testing violations.” ODAPC is an important resource for all DOT service agents as they provide guidance and interpretations of DOT regulations as they pertain to the 49 CFR Part 40.

Opiate:  Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.

According to the NIDA website, “All opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction, overdose incidents, and deaths.”

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):  With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the US Department of Labor to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

In post-accident testing, businesses that operate under OSHA regulations must show that there is a reasonable basis or suspicion that drug or alcohol use caused or contributed to the reported injury or illness to justify requiring the employee to submit to a drug and/or alcohol test.

Panel:  Panel drug tests are designed to screen for multiple types of drugs from only one sample, making the process more expeditious and cost-efficient.  A standard 5-panel drug urine test is the drug test most frequently used by government agencies and private employers. A     5-panel drug test typically tests for commonly abused substances, including THC, Opiates, PCP, Cocaine, and Amphetamines. The Department of Transportation also uses five-panel urine drug tests.   A non-DOT drug test can consist of a 5 drug panel or be expanded to a 10-panel or greater. The 5-panel typically tests for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines/methamphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).  A 10-panel drug test would generally include the standard 5-panel and add barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone, methaqualone, and propoxyphene to the list. Non-DOT employers can also choose to test for hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, prescription painkillers and ecstasy.  Non-regulated drug testing gives employers the ability to choose the type of specimen they want to test (urine, hair saliva, blood) and to develop a drug testing program without the stricter requirements of the federal government.

Phencyclidine (PCP):  PCP (also known as “angel dust”) appeared on the market in the 1950s as an anesthetic and tranquilizer known as Sernyl, but was discontinued in 1967.  PCP is a Schedule II Controlled Substance; it is an illegal psychedelic drug that induces hallucinations and produces a feeling of detachment from oneself and one’s surroundings.  Phencyclidine is considered extremely dangerous, and its use has been linked to violent and aggressive behaviors, psychosis, and a heightened risk of accidental death. An overdose can be fatal.  PCP is a standard part of the DOT 5-panel drug test.

PHMSA:  PHMSA’s mission is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to the public. To do this, the agency establishes national policy, sets and enforces standards, educates, and conducts research to prevent incidents. They also educate and train the public and first responders to reduce consequences if an incident does occur.

As an agency under the US DOT, PHMSA conducts drug testing under 49 CFR Part 199 (PHMSA drug and alcohol testing regulations) and 49 CFR Part 40 (DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations).

Point of Care Testing (POCT):  Point of Care Testing, sometimes called “Point of Collection Testing” (POCT) in drug testing is defined as testing performed outside of a clinical laboratory in close proximity to where the collection takes place. POCT is typically performed by trained Non-DOT collectors rather non-laboratory personnel.

DOT regulations do not allow the use of POCT or instant drug test kits for DOT covered employees.

Positive Test Result:  A specimen is reported as positive if it meets or exceeds a pre-established cutoff level and has undergone additional laboratory testing (known as confirmation testing) after the initial preliminary positive test results were received.

Under DOT policy, an employer or supervisor who receives a verified positive drug test result must immediately remove the employee involved from performing safety-sensitive functions. The supervisor must take this action swiftly upon receiving the initial report of the verified positive test result and should not wait to receive the written report or the result of a split specimen test.

Preliminary (or Presumptive) Positive Drug Testing Result:  If, after an initial drug and/or alcohol screening, the screening test produced a “positive” result, the results would be considered a preliminary or presumptive positive test. In instant testing, the preferred term is a “non-negative” result. The initial screening is a preliminary test and is the first step in a two-step process. If a screen is found to be preliminary positive, it then undergoes additional confirmatory laboratory tests to verify the results.

Primary Specimen:  As it relates to drug testing, the primary specimen is the urine specimen bottle that is collected, opened, and tested first by a laboratory to determine if the employee has a drug or drug metabolite in his or her system. In DOT testing, this bottle should contain 30 milliliters. A second bottle may be collected and tested at a later time; this would be referred to as a “split specimen” (the DOT requires a split specimen collection for every test).

Qualification Training:  Training requirements to be a DOT specimen collector are outlined in 49 CFR Part 40.33. Qualification training is the second step in Urine Specimen Collection training, Breath Alcohol Technician Training, or Screening Test Technician Training following the basic information training requirement. In qualification training, the collector is trained on appropriate steps during the collection process, how to properly handle specimens, and how to handle flaws or errors in the testing process. To complete the training, the student must complete a proficiency demonstration, in which the collector would conduct error-free mock collections. The training is valid for five years.

Refresher Training:  Training that must be completed in order to renew a training qualification for specimen collection or testing.  Under DOT protocols refresher training must be completed by the collector or technician within five years of the date she completed her original training or latest refresher training course. The training must continue to be renewed every five years.

Safety-Sensitive Position:  According to the DOT website, safety-sensitive positions include positions such as pilots, truck drivers, subway operators, ship captains, pipeline controllers, airline mechanics, locomotive engineers, and bus drivers. It is essential that these transportation workers be as clear-headed and as alert as possible at all times. Use of illegal drugs and misuse of alcohol are not compatible with performing these crucial functions. To protect the interests of the public, in 1991 Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employees Testing Act that requires DOT Agencies to conduct drug and alcohol testing on safety-sensitive transportation workers.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):  According to their website, “SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Guidelines indicate that certain federally-regulated businesses that employ individuals with safety-sensitive jobs, should have a drug testing system in place along with a procedure to refer employees who test positive to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).

Substance Abuse Professional (SAP):   According to the DOT website, “A SAP is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.”

A SAP is neutral and is an advocate for neither the employer nor the employee. Their job is to protect the public interest in safety by carefully evaluating the employee and recommending appropriate actions.

Screening:  The initial process of testing the breath, blood, urine, saliva or hair for different substances. In most, but not all cases, a negative screen does not require any follow-up; however, if a drug screen has a non-negative result, further confirmation testing is required. Confirmatory tests can provide more precise data and rule out errant results.  The DOT uses only urine to screen for drugs and breath and saliva tests to screen for alcohol.

Service Agent:  A service agent is a person or entity used to help implement the DOT drug and alcohol testing procedures and regulations. This may include a breath alcohol technician, a screening test technician, a urine collector, a laboratory, a medical review officer, a substance abuse professional, or a consortium/third-party administrator in charge of coordinating the employer’s drug and alcohol testing services. Service agents may be used to administer a portion of an employer’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program, but cannot make essential determinations such as hiring and firing decisions and certain refusal determinations. The requirements for a service agent are defined by 49 CFR Part 40.

Shipping container:  A container designed to secure the specimens and adequately protect the specimen bottles from shipment damage in the transport of specimens from the collection site to the laboratory (e.g., standard courier box, small cardboard box, plastic container).

Specific Gravity (SG):  SG is a measurement of the density of a liquid compared to the density of water, and it measures the concentration of dissolved particles in a sample.  While there are a number of acceptable medical explanations for a low specific gravity, it can also indicate that a sample may have been tampered with. Specific gravity may indicate that there is too much water in the urine to obtain an accurate measurement of what is actually contained in the urine.  If the levels are too far outside of the normal range, the specimen may be reported as diluted or adulterated.

Specimen Container:  According to the DOT website, a specimen container is an individually wrapped, single-use plastic container, and is large enough to easily catch and hold at least 55 milliliters of urine voided from the body.  It must also contain a temperature strip that is affixed at the proper level.

Split Specimen:  A split specimen collection occurs when the employee’s urine sample is split between two specimen cups (Bottle A and Bottle B) in order to have a second sample tested at the employee’s discretion following a positive or dilute result. Split specimen collections are required under DOT regulations and are required or recommended under Non-DOT protocols.

Stand Down:  “Stand-down” refers to the employer practice of temporarily removing an employee from the performance of safety-sensitive duties after learning that the individual had a confirmed laboratory positive drug test, but before the MRO has completed the verification process.  An employer may, however, seek DOT operating authority approval for a specific, written stand-down plan that permits a “stand down,” but simultaneously protects the interests of employees.   The practice of “stand-down” is prohibited unless a waiver is granted by DOT.

Substituted Specimen:  When a urine specimen fails to meet the creatinine and specific gravity values necessary to demonstrate that it is a normal human urine specimen it is identified as a substituted specimen under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s provisions for drug and alcohol testing.

Temperature Strip:  A temperature strip can be placed on the outside of a urine specimen container/cup in order to validate the specimen’s temperature.  The temperature should be read within 4 minutes and should read between 90 and 100 degrees fahrenheit; specimens with a reading outside this range may be suspected of adulteration, substitution, or dilution.  All DOT urine specimen collection containers are required to have a temperature strip.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC):  THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis sativa plant. It is manufactured for use pharmaceutically under the name Dronabinol and packaged under common names like Marinol and Syndros used to treat symptoms of cancer treatment and AIDS. THC is listed as a Schedule I Substance under US federal law, and as such, DOT regulation 49 CFR Part 40 does not currently authorize (as of September, 2018) even prescription THC to be a valid medical explanation for a covered employee’s positive drug test result.

United States Coast Guard (USCG):  The USCG is currently regulated by Homeland Security.  Employers regulated by the Coast Guard must follow DOT 49 CFR Part 40 regulations in order to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace.  They still follow these DOT regulations as part of an agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation.

Anyone applying for a Captain’s license or other merchant mariner credential needs an initial drug test and periodic drug testing every two years. Only a DOT 5 Panel (SAMHSA 5) will be accepted, and the laboratory used must be accredited by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the final drug test results must be signed by a Certified Medical Review Officer (MRO).

Verified Laboratory Test:  A confirmed drug test result or validity testing result from an HHS-certified laboratory that has undergone review and final determination by the MRO.

Void:  To urinate.  All DOT drug screen specimens are obtained from the employee by voiding into a plastic specimen container as outlined by 49 CFR Part 40.

World Health Organization (WHO):  According to their website, the WHO is a “directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system.”  The WHO achieves this by:

  • “providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  • shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  • setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  • articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  • providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
  • monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.”

According to the WHO website, their Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) is ”a questionnaire that screens for all levels of problem or risky substance use in adults. The ASSIST (V3.1 or V3.0) consists of eight questions covering tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants (including ecstasy) inhalants, sedatives, hallucinogens, opioids and ‘other drugs’. A risk score is provided for each substance, and scores are grouped into ‘low risk’, ‘moderate risk’ or ‘high risk’. The risk score determines the level of intervention recommended (‘treatment as usual’, ‘brief intervention’ or ‘brief intervention plus referral to specialist treatment’).”

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