Success seen with direct observation drug testing rules

Posted on June 25, 2010

Many employers and collectors have reported success in thwarting drug test cheating because of stricter rules that kicked in last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reported recently.

"Since the direct observation rules went into effect, we have heard from many of you that your experiences as employers, employees, collectors, MROs [medical review officers], and SAPs [substance abuse professionals] have shown that drug test cheaters are being caught," Jim Swart, director of the DOT's Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, said in a statement.

"You also report that numerous employees in follow-up testing programs stopped using drugs because of these added measures."

Under the rules, which went into effect Aug. 31, CDL holders such as bus drivers who fail or refuse to take a drug test have to be directly observed in a test before returning to duty.

The requirement came in a Final Rule from the DOT that was intended to prevent cheating on drug tests by "safety-sensitive transportation industry employees."

In the direct observation process, the employee has to expose his or her genitals to a same-gender observer to verify the absence of cheating devices, such as the "Whizzinator." The observer then watches the employee urinate into the collection container.

"We would remind everyone that our vigilance continues and that these direct observation procedures are required for every DOT return-to-duty and follow-up test," Swart said. "Direct observation procedures are also necessary for other specific circumstances in which cheating is suspected."

For more details, see the DOT's direct observation reminder notice.


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