If you’re working in the transportation industry in Washington, it’s crucial to adhere to the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, especially their Drug and Alcohol Testing Program. This program aims to ensure all road users’ safety, especially those who operate large commercial vehicles. However, following these regulations can take a lot of work. Apart from ensuring that you or your employees are drug and alcohol-free, you also need to find a nearby location to get drug testing done.
At Fleet Drug Testing, we can help you maintain compliance with DOT regulations. Our team of skilled professionals offers an extensive range of drug testing services and programs, which includes aiding you in finding a convenient testing site in Washington, regardless of whether you pass through Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, or Olympia.
No matter where you’re headed in Washington, our team can help you find a drug testing facility that will help you remain compliant. Contact us today to get started, or visit our enrollment page to see which programs best suit your needs.
DOT Regulations and Safety-Sensitive Employees
As the primary federal agency tasked with ensuring the safety and efficiency of the transportation system, the DOT bears a significant responsibility to all individuals across many different forms of travel. In order to do this, the DOT focuses much of its regulations on certain “safety-sensitive” employees. These are individuals who perform:
- Job duties that may impact their ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely or who are responsible for the safety of themselves, their passengers, and others on the road, track, or air.
Some examples of safety-sensitive employees include:
- Truck drivers
- Bus drivers
- Air Traffic Controllers
- Ship captains and crew
- Railroad workers
The DOT requires safety-sensitive employees to comply with specific regulations, including its Drug and Alcohol Testing Program. This program mandates drug and alcohol testing for these employees at certain intervals, and they must report any positive drug or alcohol tests to their employer immediately.
Overall, the main purpose of these requirements is to make sure that these employees, especially drivers and others that operate vehicles, are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol while they’re out on the road. That said, the DOT tightly controls the actual testing regulations, so it’s important to understand how the process works.
DOT Requirements for Drug and Alcohol Testing
Under DOT regulations, drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive employees is mandatory in several situations:
- Random testing, where drivers and other employees must submit to a certain percentage of drug and alcohol testing each year. DOT rates are currently set at 50% for drug testing and 10% for alcohol testing.
DOT drug testing panels typically include five substances:
- Amphetamines (including methamphetamine and MDMA)
- Opioids (such as codeine, heroin, and morphine)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
While these substances have various testing options, DOT-regulated drug tests must use urine samples.
Testing is only one part of the regulations, though. They also have strict protocols when it comes to chain of custody and testing sites so that they can ensure the accuracy and validity of the results. Generally, the procedure and protocols for a DOT drug test include the following steps:
- Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees know the testing procedures and protocols, including when and where they will be tested.
- At the testing site, a trained collector obtains a urine sample from the employee. The collector ensures the specimen is properly labeled and sealed to prevent tampering.
- The urine sample is divided into two separate containers, called the primary and split specimens. The primary specimen is sent to a certified laboratory for testing, while the split specimen is stored at the collection site in case of a challenge to the test results.
- The primary specimen is analyzed at a certified laboratory using an immunoassay test. A confirmation test is conducted using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) if the result is positive.
- Once the results are in, a Medical Review Officer (MRO) reviews the test results and contacts the employee if there is a positive result. The MRO will also ask the employee whether they are taking prescription medications that could lead to a positive drug test result. If the employee can provide a valid medical explanation for the positive result, the MRO will report the result as negative.
- The MRO reports the test results to the employer. In the event of a positive test, the employee has to be removed from safety-sensitive duties immediately. The employer may also be required to report the positive result to the DOT.
- Employees who test positive must complete a substance abuse evaluation and follow-up testing program. The employee must test negative on a return-to-duty test before they can resume safety-sensitive duties.
With this procedure in place, your focus as an employer or employee can turn to maintaining compliance. DOT regulations require ongoing testing and reporting, so it’s important to understand what can happen when you don’t comply with the testing program or other DOT regulations.
Consequences of Non-Compliance with the DOT Drug Testing Program
Obvioulsy, not complying with DOT regulations can negatively impact your business, whether you manage a fleet of trucks or operate your own vehicle. But using drugs or alcohol as a driver is only one way in which you could be outside of these regulations. Another is by failing to use a certified lab that the DOT approves. This, obviously, would call any testing results into question.
These regulations are in place for a reason: to ensure everyone is safe. When you or your company is not in compliance with these regulations, it can have serious consequences, such as:
- Financial consequences – Failing to comply with DOT regulations can result in fines, loss of contracts, and even legal action. Additionally, employers may be subject to increased scrutiny from the DOT and may face difficulty obtaining permits or licenses in the future.
- Employment consequences – For an employee, failing a drug test or not complying with DOT regulations can lead to suspension or termination of employment, loss of commercial driving privileges, and difficulty finding employment in the transportation industry in the future.
Contact Fleet Drug Testing Today To Make Sure You Are Covered
Sometimes, finding a convenient drug testing location that meets all of the DOT’s regulations is easier said than done. That’s where our team at Fleet Drug Testing can help. Our testing programs take the guesswork out of finding a certified lab wherever you are in Washington and can make the process much smoother. This, in turn, will not only keep you in compliance with DOT regulations but will keep your business moving.
Contact us today to get started.