Employers regulated by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) are required to implement drug and alcohol testing programs, including random drug and alcohol testing. According to DOT, random testing is the best tool employers have for deterring drug and alcohol use in the workplace. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
- It saves lives and prevents injuries
- It helps employers identify workers with substance abuse issues and facilitate their treatment
- It allows employees to easily say no to illegal drug use — "No, thanks. They drug test at work.”
- It reduces employer liability
- It's a fair way of testing
The DOT has six agencies or modes of transportation that each set their own random testing rates. These rates can change from year to year based on positive drug and alcohol testing rates from previous years. The six agencies are:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
- United States Coast Guard (USCG)
The links on the above DOT agencies direct you to web pages on
2019 DOT Random Rates
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
There are no changes in 2019 for FMCSA, the trucking industry. The random testing rates remain at 25 % annually for drugs and 10% annually for alcohol
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
There are no changes in 2019 for FAA, the aviation industry. The random testing rates remain at 25% annually for drugs and 10% annually for alcohol. Statistics from 2017 show the drug test positive rate remained below 1%, which prevents an increase in random testing rates.
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
There are no changes in 2019 for FRA, the railroad industry. The random testing rates remain at 25% annually for drugs and 10% annually for alcohol. For Maintenance-of-Way (MOW) employees, as this is a new program initiated in June of 2017, the rates for 2019 are an annual 50% rate for drugs and a 25% rate for alcohol.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) increased annual random drug testing rates to 50% in 2019. The annual rate for alcohol testing remains at 10%. For the FTA, positive rates increased to over 1% in 2017. This agency regulates transit systems, with employees performing revenue vehicle operations, revenue vehicle and equipment maintenance, revenue vehicle controls or dispatches (optional), Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) non-revenue vehicle operations, and/or armed security duties.
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
Last year in 2018, the PHMSA raised the drug testing random rate annually to 50%. There is no alcohol random testing for PHMSA. For 2019, the annual 50% rate for drug testing will remain the same for employers with employees that perform an operation, maintenance, or emergency-response function on a pipeline or liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility.
United States Coast Guard (USCG)
With no random alcohol testing in the USCG program, the annual random drug testing rates have increased to 50%. 2017 data showed an increase of over 1% for random positive drug tests. Vessels acting under the authority of a license, certificate of registry, or a merchant mariner’s document are covered, and employees on these vessels must be included in the drug and alcohol testing program.
How are the DOT Random Testing Rates Determined?
The DOT agency that regulates a specific transportation industry sets the random testing rate. The administrator of each DOT agency is authorized to either increase or decrease the random drug and alcohol testing rates based on positive test rates from previous years. To establish an appropriate rate, administrators use information reported from the drug and alcohol Management Information System (MIS) form required by 49 CFR Part 40 and other indicators. The rates are always effective starting January 1 of the calendar year.
To check for the current rate, visit the Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) website.
The random rates are annual minimum requirements. If a DOT agency requires a drug testing rate of 50% and an alcohol testing rate of 10%, then an employer with 100 safety-sensitive employees would have to ensure that 50 or more random drug tests and 10 or more random alcohol tests were conducted during the calendar year.
Employers (and C/TPAs) subject to more than one DOT agency drug and alcohol testing rule may continue to combine covered employees into a single random selection pool.
For expert consultation and to set up a DOT random drug and alcohol testing program or join a consortium, contact US Drug Test Centers.