DOT Oral Fluid Updates & Training

Evolution of DOT Oral Fluid Testing Regulations

In 2015, SAMHSA proposed guidelines for oral fluid testing in federal workplaces. By October 29, the HHS established related scientific guidelines. Though there was industry anticipation by 2021, the DOT only finalized its rule to include oral fluid testing on May 2, 2023, which took effect on June 1. However, actual implementation awaits HHS's certification of two labs.


On April 15, SAMHSA issued a proposed rule to establish guidelines for including oral fluid specimens in its Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. However, the specific date would need to be verified through the Federal Register or SAMHSA's own publications.


On October 29, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS or Department) established scientific and technical guidelines for including oral fluid specimens in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs.


By the end of 2021, there was ongoing research, discussions, and some level of anticipation in the industry, as many believed oral fluid testing could offer advantages like reduced invasiveness and the ability to detect recent drug use better. However, formal implementation dates or significant DOT-specific milestones related to oral fluid testing have not been announced.


On May 2, The Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule in the Federal Register (88 FR 27596). This final rule, among other items, amends the DOT’s regulated industry drug testing program to include oral fluid testing.
On June 1, The final rule for DOT Oral Fluid became effective June 1, 2023. However, DOT oral fluid testing cannot be implemented until the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) certifies at least two laboratories (one as a primary and a second as a split specimen laboratory).

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Department of Transportation

DOT Oral Fluid Drug Testing is regualted by the Department of Transportation.

Safety is a critical issue in the transportation sector. Whether it's on the road, in the skies, or over water, ensuring that those responsible for transportation and the traveling public are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work is crucial. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees and regulates the safety of these transportation mediums, including setting stringent drug and alcohol testing regulations to ensure the well-being of both those in transportation roles and in the general public.

The journey towards embracing oral fluid drug testing under the DOT began in 2015. SAMHSA, a pivotal federal administration tasked with compiling data and drafting many drug and alcohol testing regulations, proposed guidelines for this innovative testing method in federal workplaces. Recognizing the potential of oral fluid tests, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), by the end of October, set out clear scientific and technical guidelines for its adoption.

By 2021, the industry began to warm to the idea and advantages of oral fluid testing--notably its considerably less invasive collection process and its short but closer-to-impairment drug detection window. Finally, on May 2, 2023, the DOT formally adopted a final rule in the Federal Register including oral fluid testing in its mandatory drug and alcohol testing program. While this rule officially took effect on June 1, 2023, its full implementation is pending the HHS's certification of at least two laboratories for testing the oral fluid samples, ensuring that testing is both accurate and reliable.

In the meantime, DOT-regulated employers and their service agents must prepare for the imminent implementation of oral fluid as a testing modality. Important key steps include:

  1. Reviewing and becoming familiar with the official changes in 49 C.F.R. Part 40 that took effect on June 1, 2023, such as new mandates for directly observed collections on individuals identifying as transgender and genderfluid;

  2. Preparing so-called "standing orders" as authorized and recommended by the DOT and the regulations; and

  3. Signing up early for DOT Oral Fluid Collection Training to be prepared to implement the testing modality shortly after the HHS certifies at least two laboratories for oral fluid specimen testing and confirmation.

Detects recent use.
Less invasive.
Difficult to tamper.
Hard to adulterate
Minimize gender bias.
Ease of collection.
Reduced privacy concerns.
Less canceled tests.

Oral Fluid Testing Utilizes Human Saliva to Create a Safer Workplace

In the realm of drug testing, innovation, and accuracy are paramount. DOT Oral Fluid Testing represents a step forward in ensuring a drug-free and safe transportation workplace by harnessing the capabilities of saliva as a testing modality for prohibited drug use. This method stands out not just for its simplicity and less-invasive testing procedure, but also for its efficacy in identifying recent drug use, making it an invaluable tool in the ongoing battle against substance use and abuse in safety-sensitive job roles.

Saliva testing, also known as oral fluid testing, offers multiple advantages. Despite that all oral fluid collections are directly observed, they are also less invasive than the standard urine tests required by the DOT regulations. This helps reduce the chance of tampering or adulteration, broaden the scope of possible locations for collection, expand the pool of collectors to any gender, and help prevent unnecessary intrusion into the privacy rights of employees. Employees often find it more comfortable, which can lead to more cooperative testing processes. These factors are expected to reduce the number of overall refusals and canceled tests due to uncooperative donors, a lack of a private bathroom for collection, or the absence of a collector of the same gender as the donor. The speed at which substances appear in saliva post-use also means oral fluid testing can more effectively detect recent drug use, providing employers with timely insights into potential safety risks.

The Department of Transportation recognizes the importance of maintaining a safe environment in all transportation-related industries. By embracing DOT Oral Fluid Testing, the DOT not only modernizes its drug detection approach but also strengthens its commitment to ensuring the safety of both the public and transportation workers. As the transportation industry evolves, so does its approach to safety, with saliva-based drug detection playing a pivotal role in creating and maintaining a secure workplace for all.

Marijuana (THC)
Cocaine (COC)
Opiates (OPI)
Amphetamines (AMP)
Phencyclidine (PCP)

Oral Fluid Testing can detect up to 9 common drugs wtih a detection time of 24-48 hours.

The evolution of drug testing methodologies has always aimed to strike a balance between comprehensive detection and timeliness. DOT Oral Fluid Testing represents a remarkable blend of both. When employing a saliva-based drug detection method, a laboratory can identify up to nine commonly abused drugs, providing a wide-ranging overview of an individual's recent substance use.

A significant advantage of this testing is its short detection window. While some testing methods can either miss recent use or detect drug residues long after the effects have worn off, oral fluid testing offers a concise detection window of approximately 24-48 hours after use. This ensures that what's being detected is recent and relevant, making it a crucial tool for assessing immediate impairment or recent substance use or abuse in transportation workplaces.

The decision to use this method underscores the Department of Transportation's dedication to not just ensuring a drug-free workplace, but also to adopting methodologies that offer precise, timely, and relevant results. The ability to detect nine common drugs within such a specific timeframe stands as a testament to the DOT's commitment to the safety of both the public and those in transportation roles.

As the world of transportation continues to evolve and grow, so does its approach to maintaining a secure, efficient, and safe environment. DOT Oral Fluid Testing is a reflection of this dedication, providing an advanced, efficient, and wide-ranging solution to drug detection in the industry.

DOT weighs public and private interests.
DOT testing offers uniformity.
Safety is central in both methods.
Non-DOT may be tailored.
Non-DOT may use instant testing.

DOT mandates regulations, while Non-DOT offers flexibility in oral fluid drug testing.

Drug testing in the transportation sector is necessary to accomplish the DOT's goals of ensuring the safety of the traveling public. This focus on safety explains the strict regulations set by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for oral fluid drug testing. DOT regulations offer little room for variation, ensuring a consistent and stringent standard across the board, weighing the privacy and economic interests of public and private employees and employers against its legitimate public health and safety interests. These robust guidelines reassure that every DOT-compliant test adheres to the same high standards, ensuring accuracy and reliability.

Non-DOT Oral Fluid Drug Testing presents a more flexible approach. Companies and organizations with employees that aren't under the purview of the mandatory DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations have the freedom to adapt their drug testing procedures to their specific needs subject to state and local laws rather than federal regulations. This adaptation might include adjusting which drugs are screened for, whether to use an instant, Point-of-Care Test (POCT), and modifying random testing frequency. Such flexibility can be advantageous for companies looking to tailor their testing protocols to their unique workplace environment or industry-specific concerns.

While Non-DOT Oral Fluid Testing allows for customization, companies must ensure that their procedures remain legally-compliant, rigorous, scientifically sound, and ethically conducted.

In essence, while DOT Oral Fluid Drug Testing offers a strict, one-size-fits-all approach rooted in ensuring utmost safety in the transportation sector, Non-DOT testing provides an adaptable solution that can often be tailored to diverse needs. Both, in their own ways, aim to foster safer, drug-free workplaces.

Learn from a lawyer.
Become a train-the-trainer for DOT Oral Fluid testing.
Become a qualified oral fluid specimen collector.
Learn both federal and state collection protocols.
Train others with a train-the-trainer certificate.
Learn about recent legal updates.

Learn oral fluid regulations, protocols, and best practices with attorney-made training content.

When it comes to DOT and Non-DOT Oral Fluid testing, there's a need to implement it correctly, down to the last detail. Collectors seeking to avoid falling behind their competitors and companies wanting the best training for their in-house testing teams need top-notch guidance. This is where attorney-made training content by Andrew Easler comes in. With his background as an industry expert, lawyer, and course author, Andrew offers clear, insightful teaching that goes beyond mere fundamentals. He ensures that every learner has a solid grasp of not just the rules and how to apply them effectively, but also how to avoid common mistakes in collection.

Our courses are built not just to teach, but to prepare. They are structured to make key points clear and actionable for both new learners and seasoned professionals. We cover the critical structures and then dive deeper, offering hands-on practice including mock collections and real-world scenario training. For companies investing in in-house testing, this training simply makes sense. It boosts skills, builds confidence, and there aren't any hidden fees to worry about. With qualified oral fluid collectors on-site, an in-house testing program can perform collections more quickly with less risk of mistakes or tampering when the stakes are higher, such as in a post-accident or reasonable suspicion drug test.

Whether the training is for a collection site or for an in-house testing program, team leaders can be confident that our attorney-made oral fluid drug testing courses will prepare collectors for inevitable difficult and problematic real-world scenarios.

Urine provides broad and historic detection.
Oral fluid approved June 1, 2023.
Oral fluid offers quick and precise outcomes.
Less adulteration risk with oral fluid.
Labs await SAMHSA certification.
Oral fluid is less invasive.

The Evolution of DOT Drug Testing through Urine and Oral Fluid

Drug testing for urine under DOT-mandated testing programs has been the cornerstone of drug screening for safety-sensitive positions. With a detection time spanning from about two days to several weeks, urine as a testing modality has provided robust workplace safety through reliable results over the years. However, its invasive nature and adulteration concerns have raised questions about its long-term sustainability with new testing methods now available.

The new DOT Oral Fluid Testing era has begun. Approved for implementation by the DOT on June 1, 2023, this novel method, although green-lit, awaits full adoption pending certain preconditions. The first DOT-regulated oral fluid drug test is now contingent on SAMHSA certification of at least two laboratories for sample analysis. Once these labs are approved, oral fluid will be a commonly requested testing mode on the basis of regulatory mandates and standing orders by employers.

The appeal of oral fluid drug testing lies in its simplicity and short detection window, usually within 24-48 hours. Oral fluid's always directly observed procedures yet non-invasive nature minimize tampering risks and provide employers with a more accurate snapshot of potential impairment at the time of testing while providing maximum protection of an employee's privacy interests during the process.

The DOT's endorsement of oral fluid testing marks a potential sea change in drug screening practices. While urine tests hold historical significance and won't disappear overnight, the clear advantages of oral fluid tests position the oral fluid modality as a future favorite with a promise of efficiency, reduced invasiveness, and a focus on recent drug use. While DOT oral fluid is approved, employers cannot use this testing method until two or more laboratories are certified.

Training Insights

November 2014
Training Certificates Issued
Qualified Team Members
Courses on Drug & Alcohol Testing

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