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U.S. DOT Releases Final Rule On Oral Fluid Testing

Updated: May 17, 2023



The U.S Department of Transportation has recently made the Final Rule on Oral Fluid Testing available to the public.


According to the department, it will be effective on June 1, 2023.


This significant development paves the way for incorporating oral fluid testing as an alternative to urine specimen testing in DOT-mandated drug and alcohol testing programs.


This additional specimen testing method offers employers an alternative method, allowing them to combat issues regarding employee cheating on urine drug tests. Furthermore, it provides a less invasive approach while ensuring safety goals are met.


WAITING FOR IMPLEMENTATION


This new regulation makes changes to the FAA, FMCSA, FRA, and FTA regulations to guarantee uniformity and coherence across the entire Department of Transportation.


However, while oral fluid testing will be effective on June 1, 2023, it will not be implemented yet.


According to FMCSA, In order for an employer to implement oral fluid testing under the Department’s regulation; The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will need to certify at least two laboratories for oral fluid testing, which has not yet been done.




THE NEED FOR CHANGE…


When private citizens are asked to provide urine samples, it can be seen as a type of search and seizure, which is protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Department understands this and takes privacy seriously when collecting urine samples from employees who work in transportation and have safety-sensitive roles. They strive to balance respecting employee privacy and ensuring transportation safety.


To protect individual rights, the Department ensures that employees undergoing urine testing have their privacy maintained during the process.


In June 2008, the Department made changes to the way they collect urine samples to make it more effective in preventing cheating on drug tests. They improved the procedures for directly observing the collection process and expanded the situations where direct observation would be used. This was done to ensure that drug testing is reliable and accurate and to address any attempts to cheat the system.


Prior to expanding the direct observation procedures, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognized the possibility of people trying to cheat on urine tests. As a result, they started considering other testing methods to address this issue. In 2004, HHS sought feedback from the public on various alternative testing methods that would involve direct observation. These methods included testing oral fluid (saliva), hair, and sweat samples.


NOT MEETING THE STANDARDS


Although oral fluid testing did not meet the standards of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2004, significant progress has been made in the field of science and research since then. As a result, HHS has now concluded that oral fluid testing is a suitable alternative method for detecting illicit drug use among Federal employees.


The scientific viability of oral fluid testing has significantly improved over the years, leading to HHS's determination in 2019 that this methodology is accurate and appropriate for drug testing in the Federal workplace.



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