DOT Delays Implementation of New Drug and Alcohol Testing Procedures

Last month, the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced that changes to its drug and alcohol testing regulations would go into effect on August 25, 2008. The new regulations amended and added to 49 C.F.R. Part 40, relating to adulterated, substituted, diluted, or invalid urine specimens. After complaints from the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), though, the DOT has delayed the implementation of the new rules. The regulations will be open for comment submission for one month and are scheduled for their official debut in November—in whatever form they take at that point.

So what caused the sudden change of heart? The TTD, along with the Association of American Railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; the Teamsters, and the Air Transport Association, joined by the Regional Airline Association, asked the DOT to reconsider the portion of the new regulations that would make specimen validity testing (SVT) mandatory. The DOT considers mandatory SVT to be an important way to combat cheating on drug tests.

The objections related to the portions of the new regulations that expanded the use of direct observation (DO). In short, employees who previously received a positive test result for prohibited drug would now be required to provide urine specimens under DO. The DOT explains the proposed changes and the background of