DOT Issues Final Rule to Allow Use of Oral Fluids for Drug Testing

by May 31, 2023Idealease, News, Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a final rule allowing motor carriers to use oral fluid samples instead of urine for drug testing of commercial truck drivers and other transportation workers.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which establishes standards for all federal drug testing programs, has determined that testing of oral fluids is as reliable and accurate as testing of urine samples. Moreover, oral fluid testing reduces the risk of substituted or adulterated samples because the collection technician observes all collections of oral fluids, taken with a mouth swab.

The rule will not go into effect until DHHS certifies at least two laboratories to conduct oral fluids testing—one lab to conduct the screening and confirmation drug testing on the primary specimen and a different HHS-certified laboratory to conduct the split specimen drug testing on the secondary specimen, if the employee requests split specimen testing for a non-negative result.

The rule has procedures for handling “dry mouth,” where the worker cannot provide a saliva sample, simile to the “shy bladder” procedures for urine sample collections. The sample custody and control procedures will be like established urine testing protocols.

Finally, authority to test hair samples as another alternative to urine sample testing under the federal drug testing programs is awaiting publication of final procedural guidelines from DHHS. Once that agency issues a final rule on hair testing standards (the proposal was published in September 2020), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to adopt those standards to allow employers to use hair samples for drug testing of CDL drivers.

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