Alcohol & Drugs (Motor Carriers) laws & safety compliance analysis

Alcohol & Drugs (Motor Carriers): What you need to know

The federal Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act (OTETA) of 1991 directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement alcohol and drug testing for safety-sensitive employees in the aviation, highway, rail, and mass transit industries. The Act specifically requires privacy in collection techniques, confirmation of any positive screening results, use of split samples of body fluid specimens, employer recordkeeping, confidentiality of test results, and scientifically random selection of employees to be tested. The Act preempts inconsistent state and local laws.

Mandatory guidelines (49 CFR Part 40, Subpart C) set scientific and technical standards for federal workplace drug testing programs and outline the requirements for laboratory certification. The guidelines address how urine samples are collected and tested, the standards for certification of instrumented initial test facilities (IITF), and the role of collectors and medical review officers (MROs), as well as the standards MROs should follow. The guidelines also require testing for the drug ecstasy and initial test cutoff concentrations for multiple substances, including amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin.

Drug testing. DOT has a very stringent drug and alcohol testing rule. The rule sets out testing procedures that include a "public interest exclusion" provision allowing DOT to protect the public from the actions of service providers that violate DOT's rules, greater training requirements for testing personnel, and mandatory validity testing (49 CFR 40). The rule is available on the DOT website at

DOT requires covered employers to conduct random drug testing for employees in safety-sensitive jobs and to test all applicants ...

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