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How is a DOT Alcohol Test Done?

By Andrew David Easler, Esq.

The Department of Transportation conducts alcohol testing in such a way as to guarantee the integrity of the test, and preserve the confidentiality of the employee’s information. Employees may sometimes be confused as to whether they’re taking a federal test, or a private company test. DOT alcohol tests are invariably documented using a form that bears the words, “Department of Transportation” at the Top.

What Does a Technician Do?

At the beginning of the test, a Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) or a Screening Test Technician (STT) will secure the testing area so that no unauthorized people can see or hear the results of the test, and will have the person being tested sign the Alcohol Testing Form (ATF). Using a DOT-approved device, he or she will perform the screening test, and show the employee the result, which will then be documented on the ATF, a copy of which will be provided to both employer an employee.

If the result of the test shows a blood alcohol level of lower than 0.02, there is no need for further testing, and no action taken by the DOT. If it’s 0.02 or higher, another test will be performed. This test can only be done by a BAT, who will wait between 15 minutes and half an hour. During that time, the person being tested will not be allowed to drink, eat, smoke, belch, chew gum, or place anything else in his or her mouth, and will not be permitted to leave the testing area. Leaving can be considered refusal to be tested.

The BAT uses an EBT (Evidential Breath Testing) device, and the result must read 0.00 in order for the person being tested to pass.

What If A Good Sample Can’t Be Obtained?

If the person being tested can’t (or won’t) provide enough breath for testing, a medical evaluation will be needed to determine if there is a valid reason for not providing a sample. If there is no reason, the person will be determined to have refused to take the test. Under DOT regulations, no one is permitted to refuse a test (this is covered in Subparts I and N of 49 CFR Part 40). Failure to cooperate with any part of the testing process constitutes refusal under the law.

Becoming a BAT or STT

Because of the constant need for alcohol testing under DOT regulations, there are ample opportunities for employment as a BAT or STT. Our web-based training courses are fully compliant with DOT training requirements, and can help you to obtain a job in the rapidly expanding field of drug and alcohol testing. This is an exciting field, and a very important one, as those who work as BATs or SSTs are responsible in a very real way for ensuring the safety of the public. You can learn at your own pace, and the cost for BAT and STT courses is very reasonable.

The information on this page may have changed since we first published it. We give great legal advice, but this page (and the rest of our site) is for informational use only and is no substitute for actual legal advice. If you’d like to establish an attorney-client relationship, reach out to us and we’ll tell you how we can make it official. Sending us an email or reading this page alone doesn’t mean we represent you.

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