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Is DOT Training Mandatory?

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Is DOT Training Mandatory? Who does the DOT Drug Testing Regulations cover?

The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 requires drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines, and other transportation industries.

DOT publishes rules on who must conduct drug and alcohol tests, how to conduct those tests, and what procedures to use when testing.

These regulations cover all transportation employers, safety-sensitive transportation employees, and service agents – roughly 10 million employees nationwide. Encompassed in 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 40, the Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) publishes, implements, and provides authoritative interpretations of these rules.

Important Terms

Alcohol-screening test is used to determine whether an employee may have a prohibited concentration of alcohol in his or her breath or saliva sample. But there are rules about who may conduct these tests. You can learn about these rules and teach your supervisors about what their responsibilities are with this program. This will further answer the question about "Is DOT Training Mandatory."

An MRO is a licensed physician. An MRO has to keep records of negative and cancelled test for one year. The records are kept for five years on positives and refusals.

An employee is a person who is designated in a DOT agency regulation as subject to drug testing and/or alcohol testing. The term includes individuals currently performing safety-sensitive functions designated in DOT agency regulations and applicants for employment subject to pre-employment testing.


Designated employer representative (DER)
is an employee authorized by the employer to take immediate action(s) to remove employees from safety-sensitive duties, or cause employees to be removed from these covered duties, and to make required decisions in the testing and evaluation processes. This typically the supervisor.

The DER also receives test results and other communications for the employer, consistent with the requirements of this part. These supervisors must have drug and alcohol awareness education that constitutes 60 minutes of education and awareness about drug abuse signs and symptoms, effects on performance, appearance of the employee under the influence, and the dangers in the workplace of employees using illicit substances.

This education program can be obtained at DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Program located here in PowerPoint, DVD Player disc, Videos (MP4 for web site or any other type of video preferred), and a Web course for online training

Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare. Training for substance abuse professionals (SAPs) who have completed qualification training and are performing SAP functions, are designed to keep SAPs current on changes and developments in the DOT drug and alcohol-testing program.

Service agent is a person or entity, other than an employee of the employer, who provides services specified under this part to employers and/or employees in connection with DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

Office of Drug and Alcohol policy and Compliance (ODAPC) is in the office of the Secretary, DOT that is responsible for coordinating drug and alcohol testing program.

Verified test is a drug test result or validity testing result from an HHS-certified laboratory that has undergone review and final determination by the MRO.

HHS is an abbreviation for the Department of Health and Human Services.


Testing Procedure

What does the HHS do?

The HHS certifies U.S. laboratories that can be used for these drug tests.

Any U.S. laboratory certified by HHS under the National Laboratory Certification Program as meeting the minimum standards of the HHS and Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, is qualified for a drug test under DOT regulations.

All negative results are reported by an HHS-certified laboratory to an MRO, when a specimen contains no drug or the concentration of the drug is less than the cutoff concentration for the drug or drug class and the specimen is a valid specimen.

Positive results are reported by an HHS-certified laboratory when a specimen contains a drug or drug metabolite equal to or greater than the cutoff concentrations.

A Non-negative result in the urine specimen is one that is reported as adulterated, substituted, positive (for drug(s) or drug metabolite) and/or invalid.

Where does a urine collection for a DOT drug test take place?

A urine collection for a DOT drug test must take place in a collection site. No one but the employee may be present in the room during the collection, except for the observer in the event of a directly observed collection. The second type of facility for urination that a collection site may include is a multi-site restroom. No one but the employee may be present in the multi-site restroom during the collection, except for the monitor in the event of a monitored collection or the observer in the event of a directly observed collection.

When asking "Is DOT training mandatory" it is important to understand that the supervisors is not charged with collecting urine specimens. And also that most managers asking this question who are owners of small companies can get single-supervisor education or reasonable suspicion training found here.

How does the MRO obtain information for the verification decision?

You must conduct a medical interview. You may direct the employee to undergo further medical evaluation by you or another physician. If the employee asserts that the presence of a drug or drug metabolite in his or her specimen results from taking prescription medication, you must review and take all reasonable and necessary steps to verify the authenticity of all medical records the employee provides. You may contact the employee's physician or other relevant medical personnel for further information.

Which drugs are tested?

The DOT test panel includes testing for the following drugs:

  • AMPHETAMINE
    • Amphetamine
    • Methamphetamine
    • MARIJUANA
    • Delta-9-Carboxy THC (Marijuana)
    • COCAINE
    • Benzoylecgonine
    • Opioids (several different categories commonly abused)
    • Morphine
    • Codeine
    • PHENCYCLIDINE
    • PCP
  • What is the general confidentiality rule for drug and alcohol test information?

    Service agent or employer participating in the DOT drug or alcohol testing process, you are prohibited from releasing individual test results or medical information about an employee to third parties without the employee's specific written consent. As an employer, you must take the following steps with respect to the receipt and storage of alcohol test result information:

    If you receive any test results that are not in writing (e.g., by telephone or electronic means), you must establish a mechanism to establish the identity of the BAT sending you the results.

    You must store all test result information in a way that protects confidentiality.

    Employer Regulations and Standards

    Employers Responsibilities

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

    What information must employers provide to collectors?

    As an employer, or an employer’s service agent you must ensure that the collector has the following information when conducting a urine specimen collection for you:

    Name of the employee being tested.

    Employee SSN or ID number.

    Test reason, as appropriate: Pre-employment; Random; Reasonable Suspicion/Reasonable Cause; Post-Accident; Return-to-Duty; and Follow-up.

    Must an employer check on the drug and alcohol testing record of employees it is intending to use to perform safety-sensitive duties?

    Yes, as an employer, you must, after obtaining an employee's written consent, request the information about the employee listed. Remember this requirement applies only to employees seeking to begin performing safety-sensitive duties for you for the first time.

    If the employee refuses to provide this written consent, you must not permit the employee to perform safety-sensitive functions.

    Who may collect urine specimens for DOT drug testing?Collectors meeting the requirements of this subpart are the only persons authorized to collect urine specimens for DOT drug testing. As the immediate supervisor of an employee being tested, you may not act as the collector when that employee is tested, unless no other collector is available and you are permitted to do so under DOT agency drug and alcohol regulations.

    May an employer use a service agent to meet DOT drug and alcohol testing requirement?

    All employers remain responsible for compliance with all applicable requirements of this part and other DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations, even when you use a service agent. If you violate this part or other DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations because a service agent has not provided services as our rules require, a DOT agency can subject you to sanctions. Your good faith use of a service agent is not a defense in an enforcement action initiated by a DOT agency in which an employer’s alleged noncompliance with this part or a DOT agency drug and alcohol regulation may have resulted from the service agent's conduct.

    May an employer stand down an employee before the MRO has completed the verification process?

    As an employer, you are prohibited from standing employees down, except consistent with a waiver a DOT agency grants. DOT agency is the one whose drug and alcohol testing rules apply to the majority of the covered employees in your organization. The concerned DOT agency uses its applicable procedures for considering requests for waivers.

    Your request for a waiver must include, as a minimum, the following elements:

    Your determination that standing employees down is necessary for safety in your organization and a statement of your basis for it, including any data on safety problems or incidents that could have been prevented if a stand-down procedure had been in place.

    Data showing the number of confirmed laboratory positive, adulterated, and substituted test results for your employees over the two calendar years preceding your waiver request, and the number and percentage of those test results that were verified positive, adulterated, or substituted by the MRO.

    Information about the work situation of the employees subject to stand-down, including a description of the size and organization of the unit(s) in which the employees work, the process through which employees will be informed of the stand-down, whether there is an in-house MRO, and whether your organization has a medical disqualification or stand-down policy for employees in situations other than drug and alcohol testing.

    A statement of as to which DOT agencies regulate your employees.

    Your assurance that you will distribute copies of your written policy to all employees that this covers. Your means of ensuring that no information about the confirmed positive, adulterated, or substituted test result or the reason for the employee's temporary removal from performance of safety-sensitive functions becomes available, directly or indirectly, to anyone in your organization (or subsequently to another employer) other than the employee, the MRO and the DER.

    Your means of ensuring that all covered employees in a particular job category in your organization are treated the same way with respect to stand-down. Our means of ensuring that a covered employee will be subject to stand-down only with respect to the actual performance of safety-sensitive duties

    Your means of ensuring that you will not take any action adversely affecting the employee's pay and benefits pending the completion of the MRO's verification process. This includes continuing to pay the employee during the period of the stand-down in the same way you would have paid him or her had he or she not been stood down.

    Your means of ensuring that the verification process will commence no later than the time an employee is temporarily removed from the performance of safety-sensitive functions and that the period of stand-down for any employee will not exceed five days.

    In the event that the MRO verifies the test negative or cancels it:

    • You return the employee immediately to the performance of safety-sensitive duties.

    • The employee suffers no adverse personnel or financial consequences as a result of the stand down.
    • You maintain a record of the test only as a negative or cancelled test.
    • You must not stand employees down in the absence of a waiver, or inconsistent with the terms of your waiver. If you do, you are in violation of this part and DOT agency drug testing regulations, and you are subject to enforcement action by the DOT agency just as you are for other violations of this part and DOT agency rules.

    What actions do employers take after receiving verified test results?

    As an employer who receives a verified positive, adulterated, and substituted drug test result, you must immediately remove the employee involved from performing safety-sensitive functions. You must take this action upon receiving the initial report of the verified positive test result.

    Do not wait to receive the written report or the result. As an employer who receives an alcohol test result of 0.04 or higher, you must immediately remove the employee involved from performing safety-sensitive functions. If you receive an alcohol test result of 0.020-.039, you must temporarily remove the employee involved from performing safety-sensitive functions, as provided in applicable DOT agency regulations.

    Do not wait to receive the written report of the result of the test. As an employer, when an employee has a verified positive, adulterated, or substituted test result, or has otherwise violated a DOT agency drug and alcohol regulation, you must not return the employee to the performance of safety-sensitive functions until or unless the employee successfully completes the return-to-duty process.

    What if a test for an employee comes back as invalid?

    As an employer who receives a drug test result indicating that the employee's urine specimen test was cancelled because it was invalid and that a second collection must take place under direct observation - You must not give any advance notice of this test requirement to the employee and the test needs to be done immediately.

    What if the employee is late or does not show up?

    If the employee does not appear at the collection site at the scheduled time, the collector will contact the DER (Designated employer representative)to determine the appropriate interval within which the DER has determined the employee is authorized to arrive.

    If the employee's arrival is delayed beyond that time, the collector must notify the DER that the employee has not reported for testing.

    What is a refusal to take a DOT drug test, and what are the consequences?

    As an employee, you have refused to take a drug test if you fail to appear for any test within a reasonable time, as determined by the employer. As an employee, you are considered to have refused to take a drug test if you:

    Fail to remain at the testing site until the testing process is complete; Provided, that an employee who leaves the testing site before the testing process commences.

    Fail to provide a urine specimen for any drug test required by DOT agency regulations. Fail or decline to take an additional drug test the employer or collector has directed you to take.

    Fail to undergo a medical examination or evaluation, as directed by the MRO as part of the verification process. Fail to cooperate with any part of the testing process.

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

    As an employee, if the MRO reports that you have a verified adulterated or substituted test result, you have refused to take a drug test. As an employee, if you refuse to take a drug test, you incur the consequences specified under DOT agency regulations for a violation of those DOT agency regulations.

    What is a refusal to take an alcohol test, and what are the consequences?

    Screening test technicians (STTs) and breath alcohol technicians (BATs) are the ones who will conduct the alcohol test. An STT can conduct only alcohol screening tests, but a BAT can conduct alcohol screening and confirmation tests.

    As an employee, you are considered to have refused to take an alcohol test if you:

    Fail to appear for any test.

    Fail to remain at the testing site until the testing process is complete; Provided, that an employee who leaves the testing site before the testing process commences.

    Fail to provide a sufficient breath specimen, and the physician has determined, through a required medical evaluation, that there was no adequate medical explanation for the failure.

    ail to undergo a medical examination or evaluation, as directed by the employer as part of the insufficient breath procedures.

    Fail to cooperate with any part of the testing process.

    As an employee, if you refuse to take an alcohol test, you incur the same consequences specified under DOT agency regulations for a violation of those DOT agency regulations.

    Test Failure

    If a transportation employee fails a random drug test (either by refusing to test, testing positive or adulterating a specimen), the worker is banned from safety-sensitive duties until she has seen a substance abuse professional and completed a "return to duty" process, which includes another drug test. DOT regulations do not address whether the employee who fails a random drug test will be terminated or subject to any other employer actions; these decisions are left to the employer's discretion.

    I’m an Employee and I failed the test. What do I do?

    As an employee, when you have violated DOT drug and alcohol regulations, you cannot again perform any DOT safety-sensitive duties for any employer until and unless you complete the SAP evaluation, referral, and education/treatment process set forth in this subpart and in applicable DOT agency regulations.

    The first step in this process is a SAP evaluation.

    A verified positive DOT drug test result, a DOT alcohol test with a result indicating an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater, a refusal to test (including by adulterating or substituting a urine specimen) or any other violation of the prohibition on the use of alcohol or drugs under a DOT agency regulation constitutes a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation.

    I’m an Employer and my employee failed the test. What do I do?

    As the employer, you must carry out the SAP's follow-up testing requirements. You may not allow the employee to continue to perform safety-sensitive functions unless follow-up testing is conducted as directed by the SAP. You should schedule follow-up tests on dates of your own choosing, but you must ensure that the tests are unannounced with no discernable pattern as to their timing, and that the employee is given no advance notice.

    I’m a SAP. What is my role and what are my limits on a discretion in referring employees for education and treatment?

    As a SAP, for every employee who comes to you following a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation they must provide a comprehensive face-to-face assessment and clinical evaluation.

    As a SAP, upon your determination of the best recommendation for assistance, you will serve as a referral source to assist the employee's entry into an education and/or treatment program. Appropriate education may include, but is not limited to, self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) and community lectures, where attendance can be independently verified, and bona fide drug and alcohol education courses.

    As a SAP, if you believe that ongoing services (in addition to follow-up tests) are needed to assist an employee to maintain sobriety or abstinence from drug use after the employee resumes the performance of safety-sensitive duties, you must provide recommendations for these services in your follow-up evaluation report. You must re-evaluate the employee to determine if the employee has successfully carried out your education and/or treatment recommendations.

    As a SAP or MRO, you must not make a “fitness for duty” determination as part of this re-evaluation unless required to do so under an applicable DOT agency regulation.

    Employees are obligated to comply with the SAP's recommendations for these services. If they fail or refuse to do so, they may be subject to disciplinary action by their employer. As an employee with a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation, when they have been evaluated by a SAP, they must not seek a second SAP's evaluation in order to obtain another recommendation.

    Return to Duty

    How does the return to duty process occur?

    As the employer, if you decide that you want to permit the employee to return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions, you must ensure that the employee takes a return-to-duty test.

    This test cannot occur until after the SAP has determined that the employee has successfully complied with prescribed education and/or treatment. The employee must have a negative drug test result and/or an alcohol test with an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02 before resuming performance of safety-sensitive duties.

    However, you are not required to return an employee to safety-sensitive duties because the employee has met these conditions. That is a personnel decision that you have the discretion to make, subject to collective bargaining agreements or other legal requirements. It is the employer who decides whether to put the employee back to work in a safety-sensitive position.

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