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Reminder Notice - Direct Observation In Effect For All DOT Return-to-Duty & Follow-Up Drug Testing

● DOT Return‐to‐Duty (RTD) and Follow‐Up drug tests are applicable to return‐to‐duty, safety‐sensitive transportation industry employees  ‐‐   truck and bus drivers, train engineers, pilots, subway operators, ship captains, & pipeline emergency response personnel, among others ‐‐ who have already failed or refused to take a prior test.

● The Department carefully considered the safety need for this mandatory Direct Observation requirement; and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously agreed that the Department’s action was reasonable, justified, and Constitutional.

● Conducting all DOT RTD  and Follow‐Up tests under Direct Observation has been an employer requirement of Federal law since August 31, 2009.

  • This includes the RTD and Follow‐Up tests of employees whose initial violations of DOT rules occurred or whose series of DOT Follow‐Up tests began before August 31, 2009.

  • This also includes employees determined by the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) to need Follow‐Up drug testing in addition to Follow‐Up alcohol testing.

● Direct Observation must include a same gender observer’s check for prosthetic and other devices that could be used to cheat a drug test.  This check is in addition to the observer’s subsequently watching the employee urinate into the collection container.

● If a collector, Medical Review Officer (MRO), Third Party Administrator (TPA), or other service agent learns that a Direct Observation collection using the required procedures was not conducted, the employer needs to be informed.

  • Upon learning that a Direct Observation collection using the required procedures was not conducted, the employer needs to direct the employee to have an immediate recollection under Direct Observation.

  • Subsequently, MROs  will  follow the  procedures  at  40.162(b)  for  working  with multiple verified results for the same testing event.

● No other tests [e.g., Pre‐employment, Random] can be substituted for DOT RTD and Follow‐Up testing.

● Service Agents – such as SAPs, collectors, MROs, and TPAs – should periodically remind employers they serve that all DOT RTD and Follow‐Up tests must be conducted under Direct Observation.