- August 30, 2014
- Posted by: Andrew Easler
- Category: Testing
The DOT conducts alcohol and drug tests in the interests of public safety. It does not test for every single drug known to mankind, but several drugs fall under the mandate of DOT alcohol and drug testing protocols. They include:
- Amphetamines (including methamphetamine and MDMA)
- Cocaine metabolites
- PCP (phencyclidine)
Drugs are tested for by means of urinalysis, and only urinalysis. Drugs are not tested for using hair or blood samples.
Prescription Medication and DOT Regulations
People who use certain prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs may be permitted under the regulations. If the patient is seeing more than one doctor, he or she must be able to show that at least one of those doctors is aware of all the medications that have been prescribed by the other practitioners, and has determined that those medications can be used without adversely affecting the safe performance of his or her duties.
Further, the medication can only be prescribed by a licensed physician, who has made a judgment in good faith that the level of dosage is appropriate for the safe performance of those duties. In order to help the medical team prescribe safe treatments, employees should provide each physician with a detailed job description as provided by his or her employer.
Taking prescribed medication, therefore, isn’t inconsistent with DOT laws. Some sectors, though, may prohibit the use of certain drugs, such as methadone. So when in doubt, employees should consult the regulations that are specific to their industry, and should also check the policies of their individual companies.
Very few states currently permit the use of medical marijuana, and federal laws do not acknowledge any appropriate medical use. So, even if a worker has medical marijuana prescribed for him or her legally under state law, the DOT considers it to be just the same as any other prohibited drug.
The Circumstances of Testing
Safety-sensitive employees can be tested in a variety of circumstances. Of course, if there is a reasonable suspicion of illicit drug use, the employee can be tested. Employees may also be tested before they are hired, passing the test being a condition of employment. If they have had an accident that may require the use of specific medications, they can expect to be tested. Regular and random testing should also be expected.
Public Safety and Job Opportunities
The prevalence of safety-sensitive occupations means that alcohol and drug testing is becoming more and more common. Technicians are needed to perform urine analysis for drugs, and also to conduct breath and saliva testing for the presence of alcohol. In the interests of public safety, and also to protect the rights of the employee, it is important that these tests be conducted by qualified personnel.
There is a high demand for qualified testing technicians, and courses that help people to become competent in administering such tests are available and inexpensive. Online education makes it easy to learn the techniques of drug and alcohol testing at a pace that’s comfortable for each individual learner.