DOT Announces New Rules to Update Drug Testing

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced July 31 that it is issuing several rules to update its drug and alcohol testing requirements. These new rules supplement the department's new drug and alcohol testing procedures that the department published in December 2000 and which become effective August 1, 2001, according to DOT information.

The first of these rules is a set of technical amendments that clarify or correct a number of details in the regulation published last December. The amendments emphasize the obligation of participants to start using a new, simpler drug testing collection form, but provide a three-month period during which the uncorrected use of the old form will not cause tests to be canceled. The rule also provides that "validity testing" of urine specimens will remain voluntary until the Department of Health and Human Services publishes a final rule governing laboratory procedures for validity testing.

Each of the department's operating administrations is also publishing a "conforming" rule to make its own drug and alcohol testing requirements fully consistent with the DOT rules. Previously, for example, each operating administration rule contained return-to-duty procedures for employees who had tested positive for drugs or alcohol. Those requirements are now consolidated in the new department-wide rule. In order to avoid duplication, the operating administrations' amendments will delete the return-to-duty provisions from their rules.

The conforming rules for the Federal Motor Carrier Administration and Research and Special Programs Administration will be issued soon.

In addition, the department is publishing a document responding to comments on certain policy issues raised concerning the new requirements. Transportation unions asked for greater access to laboratory documents concerning drug testing. The department anticipates asking for additional comment on this request in the future, since laboratories and other parties may have information to contribute on this issue.

All the documents have been posted on the department's docket website at . Docket numbers are OST-1999-6578, FAA-2000-8431, FTA-2000-8513, and FRA-2000-8583.

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