U.S. DOT Proposes New Rule To Add Oral Fluid Test As Alternative To Urine Testing For CDL Drivers

The U.S. Department of Transportation published a notice of proposed rulemaking allowing oral fluid drug testing for CDL drivers and other HAZMAT employees.

According to the DOT, the addition of oral fluid drug testing will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a more economical, less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the drug testing program.

Research has found that oral fluid testing provides the same scientific and forensic accuracy of drug test results as urine testing.

The DOT is not proposing to eliminate urine testing. Instead, oral fluid testing will be an alternative option to urine testing. Each specimen type offers different benefits to assist employers in detecting and deterring illegal drug use.

Most significantly, the oral fluid testing window of detection for marijuana use is up to 24 hours, whereas urine testing’s window of detection for marijuana is 3 to 67 days.

Oral fluid testing will provide employers with a more flexible method for detecting recent use of marijuana. That flexibility will provide several benefits, according to the proposal.

For example, when an employer determines that a DOT post-accident or a reasonable cause/ suspicion test is needed, oral fluid collections could be done at the scene of the accident or the incident.

The collection could be done by any DOT qualified oral fluid collector–either an external contractor or a DOT-regulated company employee. Another advantage is that oral-fluid testing is generally less expensive than urine testing.

Oral fluids tests can cost $10 to $20 less than a urine testing (e.g., about $50 for a typical urine testing process, vs. about $35 for an oral fluid testing process.

Hair-testing for drug use is not included in the proposed rulemaking.

A 2020 proposed rule to set up standards for the use of hair testing for drugs was criticized by hair-testing advocates in the trucking industry including EMA because it would have required another sample, such as urine or oral, as a backup.

EMA plans to submit comments on the proposed rule for oral fluid drug testing by March 30, 2022.

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