Understanding DOT Random Drug Testing

Since the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, it has become a requirement for employers to conduct drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees in trucking, aviation, railroads, mass transit, pipelines, and many others within the transportation industry.These individuals are also subject to random drug and alcohol testing, also referred to as “random pool test.” These random tests need to be done on a certain number of employees each year. The chart below shows the annual minimum drug and alcohol testing rates that have been established within DOT Agencies and the USCG for 2016:

DOT Agency2016 Random Drug Testing Rate2016 Random Alcohol Testing Rate
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Railroad Administration
Federal Transit Administration
Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
United States Coast Guard[USCG] 25%N/A

There are numerous benefits to DOT random pool tests. It can save lives and prevent injury, it helps employers identify employees who have substance abuse issues and possibly get them help, it provides employees a reason to say no to drug use because they might lose their job due to it, it reduces employer liability, and in general it is a fair way of conducting these tests.

Regardless of what job title an employee holds, such as supervisor, volunteer, or even owner-operator, individuals are chosen for the tests based on their job function. In addition, after each selection period, the employees name will return to the same testing pool and could get selected again at the next round.

It is recommended that employers do the DOT random tests at least quarterly (once every 3 months). If an employer is concerned with meeting the annual testing rate requirement, here are a few best practices to follow that may help move the process along more smoothly:

  • Spread the testing dates reasonably throughout the year in a non-predictable pattern.
  • Conduct random drug tests anytime employees are on duty or while performing safety-sensitive duties.
  • Conduct random alcohol tests just before, during, or right after the employee performs a safety-sensitive job.
  • For each workday or weekend, enhance the non-predictability the program by conducting tests at the start, middle, or end of each shift.

As an employer, it’s important to document all the details of the random drug and alcohol testing process. This includes the names drawn, date and time of notification and collection, reason(s) for missing a test, etc. Employers should also keep all their records in accordance with industry specific regulations.

Have questions? Contact New Era Drug Testing for a more detailed explanation of DOT random drug and alcohol testing, and learn about the various affordable programs that are offered. After all, safety is a top priority for all of us!