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DOT Oral Fluid Testing 2023 Final Ruling

05/15/2023 17:08

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has declared a conclusive decision to expand its drug screening protocols, now encompassing oral fluid testing. The new regulation will come into effect on June 1, 2023, and marks a significant shift from the DOT's previous reliance on urine drug testing for safety-sensitive positions. The agency first published guidelines for oral fluid testing in October 2019. (1)

However, the implementation of this new testing method is dependent on the certification of at least two laboratories by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has not yet been completed as of May 2, 2023. Upon certification of the necessary number of laboratories by HHS, employers regulated by federal guidelines will have access to a less invasive option for drug testing.

Swabbing employees' mouths is a simpler and less time-consuming process than collecting urine samples, providing a more convenient alternative.

It is important to note that employers are not obligated to use oral fluid drug testing exclusively.

Quick Highlight FAQs...

When is the final rule effective?

Effective as of June 1, 2023, the ultimate regulation shall be in full force and effect.

Is it possible for any individual to execute oral fluid testing under DOT regulations on the scheduled commencement date?

The activation of DOT oral fluid testing has been put on hold until the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issues official certification to a minimum of two laboratories. Among those, one laboratory is expected to serve as the primary facility while the other would function as a split specimen laboratory. This certification process is crucial in ensuring the reliability and accuracy of the testing procedure in accordance with professional standards.

The Forthcoming DOT Drug Testing Flexibility is Soon to Grace the Industry

As new options for testing are becoming available, this development promises to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of drug testing procedures, while also ensuring compliance with federal regulations. Employers and employees alike stand to benefit from these advances, which will enable more comprehensive and targeted testing, as well as streamlined reporting and monitoring.

As the field of drug testing continues to evolve, it is essential for all stakeholders to remain informed and proactive in their approach to maintaining workplace safety and compliance.

How the DOT Oral fluid testing Impacts Employers

When viewed through an employer's lens, it is clear that implementing a rigorous drug testing methodology can greatly enhance the efficiency of the hiring process. Such screening measures can not only reduce employee turnover but also minimize the potential for hazardous incidents arising from substance abuse.

One of the key benefits of utilizing saliva drug testing in the workplace is the increased level of control it affords employers in terms of scheduling, location, and execution. This method of drug screening can be conveniently and efficiently administered by a trained professional within the organization, enabling employers to maintain a high level of autonomy over the entire testing process.

Employers may find increased flexibility in drug testing methods by considering the option to choose between urine or oral fluid testing. This may be based on the specific purpose of the test and the corresponding detection windows for each type. Such a consideration could result in a more tailored approach to drug testing, which could ultimately lead to a more effective and efficient screening process.

Oral fluid analysis, owing to its typically restricted detection period ranging from five to 48 hours, maybe a more pragmatic approach to identify recent drug usage, particularly when applied to post-accident drug screening.

In instances where identification of a possible drug usage pattern is requisite, such as in pre-employment, random, return-to-duty, and follow-up testing, a viable option for testing is a urine test, which has a detection window of one to seven days.

Moreover, oral fluid drug tests offer a distinct advantage with a faster turnaround time. In contrast to urine drug screens, which necessitate two days for current usage level analysis, an oral fluid screening can deliver results within a few hours, thereby expediting the testing process.

Confidently Turn to Labworks USA for Expert DOT Solutions

The forthcoming extension of federal drug screening alternatives to encompass testing via oral fluid represents a promising advancement for both employers and employees fulfilling safety-critical positions.

Labworks USA's team of DOT experts is closely monitoring the progress of this federal ruling and will continue to provide you with timely updates. Additionally, if you require assistance with DOT drug testing or Clearinghouse query management, our consortium has the necessary resources to assist you.

Take the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the latest federal regulations, particularly as oral fluid drug testing is anticipated to be introduced to safety-sensitive organizations in the near future. Contact us today to schedule your free demo of our DOT drug testing services.

Allow us to demonstrate our expertise and commitment to excellence by providing you with the most advanced and accurate testing methods available.

Choose Labworks USA for all of your DOT compliance needs including oral fluid testing and experience the difference that quality and professionalism can make.

Further FAQs...

What does this mean for collectors?

It is imperative to acquaint oneself with the employer's preferences and established protocols pertaining to both routine and exceptional collections.

To ensure seamless communication in accordance with the Federal Drug Testing Custody Control Form (CCF), it is crucial that the contact number of the collector, as stipulated in Step 1.G., directly links to the collector or they're superior, rather than a generic call center.

The Employee ID cited on the CCF may take the form of the individual's authentic Social Security Number, a unique identifier furnished by the employer, a State-issued identification card number, a State-issued driver's license number (inclusive of a CDL number), or any other State-issued or federally-issued identification number (for drivers under FMCSA regulation, the CDL number and State must be specified).

In order to facilitate a smooth and efficient specimen collection process, it is imperative that qualified personnel are available to collect either urine or an oral fluid sample, as per requirement. Therefore, it is recommended that the responsible parties ensure their own or a coworker's aptitude for collecting both specimen types.

However, if an alternate collection cannot be conducted due to a lack of qualified personnel, it is advised to promptly inform the employer, who will then make suitable arrangements for the employee's testing at another collection site.

What should oral fluid collectors know?

It is imperative that one acquires the necessary training to demonstrate proficiency in utilizing the designated oral fluid collection device. In instances where the utilization of multiple devices is required, initial proficiency validation is mandatory for each device.

What does this mean for laboratories?

In the context of oral fluid collections, it is imperative that the device utilized is not expired. Should an expired device be received, it is imperative that the specimen be rejected for further testing.

As per regulatory requirements, laboratories are obligated to furnish DOT data on a bi-annual basis. This data must be categorized by DOT operating administration, including but not limited to the FRA, FTA, FAA, PHMSA, and FMCSA.

Furthermore, the data must be organized according to test reason, inclusive of pre-employment, random, return-to-duty, follow-up, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion/cause. Finally, the

What does this mean for Medical Review Officers (MRO)?

The certification of Medical Review Officers (MROs) is not mandated for recertification training; however, it is highly recommended that MROs obtain supplementary knowledge about oral fluid testing before the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) certifies at least two laboratories to conduct such testing.

The implementation of this highly effective methodology affords a non-invasive and potentially more precise means of conducting drug testing, all while ensuring strict adherence to DOT regulations.

MROs are authorized to retract a previously canceled test in the event of unaddressed discrepancies (such as the MRO not receiving a copy of the CCF initially, but later receiving it).

In exceptional cases wherein an employee has been unable to furnish a satisfactory oral fluid specimen following an inadequate urine specimen, or conversely, (commonly referred to as shy bladder/shy lung), the employee shall be directed only to undergo a referral physician evaluation for the second specimen type attempted.

It behooves the employer to bear in mind that the onus is upon them to ascertain if a declination has taken place at the point of specimen collection. Delegating this responsibility has always been an infeasible option for employers.

What does this mean for SAPs?

SAPs have the option to conduct evaluations either in-person or remotely. When conducting remote evaluations, certain criteria must be met to ensure optimal effectiveness.

Specifically, the technology utilized must enable seamless and real-time two-way audio and visual communication between the SAP and the employee being evaluated.

Additionally, the quality of the technology must be of a high standard, allowing the SAP to gather all relevant visual and audible information that would typically be observed during in-person interactions.

It is imperative that the technology is fortified with stringent security protocols to ensure the utmost protection of the privacy of the discourse.

These measures help to ensure that remote evaluations are conducted with the same level of professionalism and attention to detail as in-person evaluations.

As a proficient SAP, it is imperative that you adhere to the geographical restrictions that pertain to your certification when conducting remote assessments. It is crucial that you do not engage in any evaluations that go beyond the boundaries of your certified location.

What are some of the other changes to Part 40?

In the event that a collector of the same gender cannot be procured for directly observed collections, there are established protocols that must be adhered to. If the employer has authorized oral fluid testing in such situations, the collector will dutifully adhere to this directive.

Conversely, if the employer has not provided a standing order, the collector is obligated to reach out to the designated employer representative (DER). The DER will then determine whether an oral fluid test can be conducted on-site or if the employee must be directed to an approved off-site collection facility. This process ensures that proper collection procedures are carried out in a professional and efficient manner.

It is imperative that the technology is fortified with stringent security protocols to ensure the utmost protection of the privacy of the discourse.

With the implementation of Subpart C of Part 40, a host of new sections have been added and many others have undergone redesignation, including the Appendices.

This has been done to ensure a smoother and more comprehensible flow for those utilizing the regulatory provisions pertaining to oral fluid drug testing. A comprehensive table has been provided in the "Background" section of the final rule for the benefit of users.

Reach out to us at Labworks USA for all of your DOT compliance needs including oral fluid testing and experience the difference that quality and professionalism can make.


1. Part 40 Final Rule - DOT Summary of Changes, Department of Transportation
, retrieved from https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/Notice_Summary_May_2023

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