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Drug and Alcohol Testing

What exactly is a refusal to test and who determines it?

The DOT regulations outline refusals to test for drugs and alcohol. Some refusals are determined by MROs and BATs and STTs. For others, the determination is your responsibility. ODAPC does an outstanding job breaking out each refusal type and documenting who the applicable decision maker is.

The decision to call a test a refusal must be based upon DOT instructions and NOT on personal opinions about whether the employee is a long-time reliable worker; has ever tested positive or refused a test; was correctly selected for the test; or claims to have misunderstood the collector’s instructions to remain at a collection site, among others.

ODAPC reminds us that when a collector for a drug test, or an STT or BAT for an alcohol test, reports a refusal event to the DER, the EMPLOYEE MUST IMMEDIATELY BE REMOVED FROM SAFETY-SENSITIVE DUTIES, and after that you [or the DER] must verify if the employee actually refused the test based upon the documentation provided and DOT’s instructions. When you [or the DER] determine that there is a refusal, do not return the employee to safety-sensitive duties until the SAP return-to-duty process is successfully completed.

In extremely rare cases for which you [or the DER] determine there is not a refusal, you [or the DER] must document your decision and your solid reasoning for it. You must maintain this documentation for a DOT Agency or USCG representative in the event of an inquiry or inspection.

Remember, your decision could be overturned by the DOT, a DOT Agency, or the USCG. So, as a safeguard to ensure that you make the correct determination, you ought to consult with your MRO on collection site refusals – the MRO is, after all, the “Gatekeeper” for the drug testing process.

An MRO’s refusal determination is final and not subject to your review. Also, an evaluating physician’s refusal determination for an employee’s insufficient breath is final and not subject to your review.

Here’s a list of Part 40 refusals and the DOT regulation instructions for handling them:

Event

Decision Maker

DOT Instructions

Fail to appear at a urine collection site when directed to report

Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]

If the employee did not get to the site or spent too much time getting there, it is a refusal

Fail to remain at the urine collection site Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the collector reports that the employee left the collection site before the testing process was complete, it is a refusal
Fail to provide a urine specimen Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the collector reports that the employee left the collection site before providing a required specimen, it is a refusal
Fail to permit a monitored or observed urine collection Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the employer ordered an observed collection or if the collector required the collection to be monitored or observed, it is a refusal if the employee does not permit it to occur.
Fail to provide a sufficient amount of urine MRO If the MRO finds that there was no medical reason for the employee to provide an insufficient amount of urine, it is a refusal
Fail or decline to take an additional drug test the employer has directed Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the employer or collector directs the employee to take an additional test, as required or permitted by the DOT, and the employee does not, it is a refusal.
Fail to undergo a medical examination or evaluation the MRO or employer has directed MRO If the employee does not go in for medical evaluation or does not permit it to occur, it is a refusal
Fail to cooperate with any part of the urine collection process Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]

Some examples of failure to cooperate are when the employee: 

1. Refuses to empty pockets when directed
2. Behaves in a confrontational manner that disrupts the collection process
3. Refuses to remove hat, coat, gloves, coveralls when directed, or
4. Fails to wash hands when directed

For an observed collection, fail to follow the instructions to raise and lower clothing and turn around Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the employee does not follow these instructions so that the observer can check for prosthetic or other devices that could be used to interfere with the collection process, it is a refusal
Possess or wear a prosthetic or other device that could be used to interfere with the collection process Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the employee is found to have or wear a prosthetic or other device designed to carry clean urine substitute, it is a refusal
Admit to the collector to having adulterated or substituted the specimen Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the employee, during the collection process, admits to having tampered with his or her specimen, it is a refusal
Adulterate or substitute a urine specimen MRO If the laboratory reports a confirmed adulterated or substituted specimen to the MRO and the MRO determines there is no medical reason for the result, it is a refusal
Admit to the MRO to having adulterated or substituted the specimen  MRO If the employee, during a medical review, admits to having tampered with his or her specimen, it is a refusal
Fail to appear for an alcohol test when directed to report Employer/DER *
[after review of the STT or BAT documentation]
If the employee did not get to the alcohol test site or spent too much time getting there, it is a refusal
Fail to remain at the alcohol test site Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the STT or BAT reports that the employee left the collection site before the testing process was complete, it is a refusal
Fail to provide an adequate amount of saliva or breath Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the STT or BAT reports that the employee left the alcohol testing site before providing a required amount of saliva or breath, it is a refusal
Fail to provide a sufficient breath specimen Evaluating Physician If the evaluation physician finds that there was no medical reason for the employee to provide an insufficient amount of breath, it is a refusal
Fail to undergo a medical examination or evaluation as the employer has directed as part of the insufficient breath procedures Employer/DER If the employee does not go in for a medical evaluation or does not permit it to occur, it is a refusal
Fail to sign the certification statement at Step 2 of the ATF Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
If the employee does not agree to have a test accomplished by signing Step 2 of the ATF, it is a refusal
Fail to cooperate with any part of the alcohol testing process Employer/DER *
[after review of the collector documentation]
One example of failing to cooperate is when the employee behaves in a confrontational manner that disrupts the alcohol testing process

 

Check out ODAPC's "What Employers Need to Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing" handbook for more information. https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/employer_handbook


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