For many years, the approved and acceptable forms of drug and alcohol testing for businesses and agencies operating under the Department of Transportation (DOT) were urine drug testing and breath alcohol testing. But there’s promising news in the world of DOT drug testing: As of May 2, 2023, the Department of Transportation has approved oral fluid drug testing. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not yet certified any laboratories to conduct this screening, but it's a huge step forward for drug testing.
What is Oral Fluid Drug Testing?
With oral fluid drug testing, the collector acquires a saliva sample from inside the individual’s mouth. They can then use this specimen sample to determine if the individual is under the influence of any illicit drugs.
This screening method offers a number of benefits. It’s quicker than other tests and can be done on the spot — for instance, in the case of on-site, post-accident drug testing. Additionally, it’s not invasive or uncomfortable. Furthermore, because the collector is present while collecting the sample, it removes the possibility of tampering. And finally, anyone and everyone is capable of submitting to a saliva test, without restriction.
While we don’t yet know when laboratories will be able to work with oral fluid drug testing, adding another drug screening method that DOT companies can utilize is a significant advancement in the world of drug testing.
How Do DOT Companies Currently Conduct Drug and Alcohol Testing?
Currently, the available methods for drug and alcohol testing are urine drug testing and breath alcohol testing. Urine drug testing is the most common as it’s the required method of DOT pre-employment testing and the most commonly used method for random testing. Urine drug testing is also required during other testing circumstances, such as for post-accident and reasonable suspicion testing. While urine testing is incredibly thorough and screens for several substances — including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine/methamphetamine, and opioids — DOT urine testing does not screen for alcohol. So, how do they test someone who might be drinking on the job?
Breath alcohol testing is primarily used for DOT random, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion testing. Breath alcohol has a detection window of up to 12 hours, so it can be an incredibly useful method for testing what’s in an employee's system at any present time.
Drug testing is commonly used:
- Before returning to duty.
- At random.
- Upon reasonable suspicion.
Drug testing is vital for businesses under the DOT, especially for safety-sensitive positions. These are positions that inherently involve heightened risk. The professionals who fill these positions are responsible for not only their own safety but the safety of their coworkers and the general public as a whole.
How Can US Drug Test Centers Help?
US Drug Test Centers has more than 20,000 locations around the United States, meaning that we’re never more than a short drive away. You can order a test online in just a few clicks, and the results will be emailed to you. We only work with SAMHSA-certified laboratories. This means that they utilize optimal testing equipment, produce accurate test results, and have a minimal retesting rate.
We go beyond drug and alcohol testing, too! We offer other services to help you maintain a drug-free workplace as a DOT company. Work with us on creating your drug-free workplace policy, which will outline factors like what drugs you screen for, when you drug and/or alcohol test, what happens if an employee tests positive, and what happens if they refuse to take a drug test.
In addition, we’ll help you train your designated employer representative (DER) — the person on your staff who helps manage your overall drug-free workplace program. Join our DOT random consortium to manage your random drug testing with ease. And let us help you enroll in the Clearinghouse. Our approach is holistic. Our goal is to make this whole process as convenient, streamlined, and efficient as possible.
Stopping drugs and alcohol from entering your business is important for you, your staff, your business entity, the other vendors you work with, and the customers you serve. Drug use at work contributes to on-the-job accidents and crime. It hurts productivity and efficiency, and it leads to human error. Overall, substance abuse in the workplace costs businesses billions of dollars each and every year. So, it hurts both the people you work with and for, and your bottom line.
Thus, running a substance-free business is of utmost importance. Working with a qualified drug testing partner who only uses SAMHSA-certified labs is non-negotiable.
Keeping your workplace drug-free might feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. As the DOT and HHS start to approve laboratories for oral fluid drug testing, US Drug Test Centers will look forward to offering this screening method to all of our customers. In the meantime, learn more about our DOT drug testing and services, or order a test online.