Changes are coming, but steps remain before implementation
The recent news that DOT drug test options soon will include the use of oral fluid drug testing as an alternative to a urine DOT drug test sent shockwaves through the nation’s various transportation industries. However, final approval of this additional testing method is not expected before Q4 of 2023.
“Oral fluid testing is a major development in the DOT drug test space,” comments Mike Bray, president of Wisconsin Drug Testing Consortium (WDTC). “We have been monitoring this issue since it first gained traction about a year ago when it became evident the science of oral fluid testing was comparable to urine testing.”
The primary roadblock between the DOT’s May 2, 2023, announcement and final approval for using oral fluid testing in a DOT drug test involves lab certification. Oral fluid testing cannot take place until the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) certifies at least two drug testing labs for oral fluid drug testing using the same collection device.
The lengthy process also includes availability of an approved collection device, FDA-cleared reagents, and a time-consuming federal certification process. As of mid-May, no labs are currently certified, and HHS certification of two or more labs is not expected before the fourth quarter.
A first look at using oral fluids for a DOT drug test
The choice of using oral fluids or urine for a DOT drug test will be up to the employer. Employers can choose to use oral fluid drug testing for all of their required drug testing, in combination with urine drug testing, or not at all except for direct observation collection for non-binary/transgender employees.
It is important to note that an employer cannot conduct both an oral fluids and a urine drug test on an employee at the start of a DOT drug test. You can choose an alternate testing method for subsequent tests when an original test is unsuccessful because of a shy bladder, dry mouth, or other circumstances that require a directly observed collection.
As you prepare for the new DOT drug test rule to go into effect, it will be best practice to have standing orders or protocols in place with each collection site used for the type of collection performed and when. You must designate an oral fluids drug testing lab for instances in which that type of testing is required even if you plan to continue conducting only urine DOT drug test procedures.
WDTC will share additional information on the changing DOT and non-DOT drug testing landscape as the approval process progresses.
About Wisconsin Drug Testing Consortium
Wisconsin Drug Testing Consortium is an accredited, Certified Third Party Administrator (C-TPA), and specializes in DOT consortium management and Clearinghouse compliance; 100% electronic from your desktop portal; a variety of drug testing methods, including urine, hair and fingernails; post-accident testing; pre-employment drug tests; criminal background checks; supervisor training programs to keep employees compliant with DOT regulations; pre-employment DOT physicals; and paternity DNA testing.