You Need to Know About Federal Drug and Alcohol Testing
drug & alcohol testing in the railroad industry must comply with DOT and FRA
Federal regulations/procedures. This
flier is a cooperative effort among the FRA, DOT, AAR, ASLRRA, ATDA, BLET, BRS,
and UTU to provide covered service employees like you with the information you
need to comply with Federal testing. Any other testing would be conducted under company authority.
and FRA testing regulations (49 CFR Parts 40 and 219) apply to all employees
covered under the hours of service law (e.g., train and engine employees,
dispatchers, and signal employees).
conduct yourself in a business-like manner and do not joke or make fun of
the collection process. Testing
is part of your responsibilities as a safety-sensitive rail employee.
the specimen collector’s instructions; e.g., remove your coat and empty
alert during the collection process and save the copies of the forms that
are given to you.
paper form that is used to record the testing information will identify
whether the test is under Federal or company authority, and state the reason
for the test. A special form is used for FRA post-accident
the results of a Federal test (positive, adulterated or substituted drug
test; positive alcohol test - concentration of 0.04 or more; or refusal)
trigger Federal sanctions, which include engineer decertification under
you feel you have been wrongfully charged with a Federal drug
or alcohol violation, you are entitled to a railroad hearing per
for drugs requires a urine specimen. Testing
for alcohol uses a breathalyzer or a saliva swab (blood is taken for
FRA post-accident testing only).
Drug and Alcohol
You are in violation of
Federal regulations if you are in possession of alcohol or illegal drugs while
assigned to perform covered service; or if you use alcohol on duty; or within 4
hours of reporting for covered service; or after
receiving notice to report (whichever is the lesser period).
Use of illegal drugs is prohibited on or off-duty.
Alcohol Concentration Below 0.02:
A railroad may
use a Federal test result below 0.02 for Federal or company action.
Breathalyzers are not certified at levels below 0.02, so a test result
below 0.02 is negative.
Alcohol Concentration 0.02 to 0.039:
If you are on railroad property with an alcohol test result from 0.02
through 0.039, your test result is “positive” for alcohol, and the railroad
must remove you from covered service for at least 8 hours.
The railroad is not prohibited from taking further disciplinary action
under company policy.
Alcohol Concentration 0.04 or More and/or Illegal/Unauthorized
Drug Use: If you test positive for illegal or unauthorized drugs,
and/or if you test positive for alcohol at 0.04 or higher, you are in
“violation” of the Federal rules and the railroad must remove you from
covered service. To be allowed to
return to covered service, you must first:
the Federal return-to-duty requirements, including evaluation by a Substance
Abuse Professional and any recommended education and/or treatment.
You must also have a negative result on your Federal return-to-duty
the railroad chooses to return you to duty, you will have to take Federal
follow-up tests for up to five years. You
will take a minimum of six follow-up tests in the year after you return to
Drugs Tested: A
certified laboratory tests your urine specimen for marijuana, cocaine, opiates,
amphetamines, & PCP.
Non-Negative Drug Test:
The testing laboratory will report a non-negative (positive, adulterated,
invalid, or substituted result) to your railroad’s Medical Review Officer (MRO).
your test result is non-negative, the MRO will interview you to determine
whether you have a legitimate medical explanation for your test result (for
example, use of a prescribed medication).
MRO will inform you of your right to request a test of your “split
specimen” at a different laboratory.
The railroad may charge the cost of testing your split specimen back
to you if your split specimen test result is positive; and you only have 72
hours to make this request.
and Over-The-Counter Medications
must inform one of your treating physicians of all the prescribed and
over-the-counter drugs you are taking so that your doctor can determine if your
use of these drugs is consistent with the safe performance of your duties.
must use the medication at the doctor’s prescribed or authorized dosage.
railroad may require you to obtain prior approval for any drugs you are
- Use Only Prescriptions in Your Name:
You may only legally use medications prescribed for you.
You are not authorized to use medication prescribed for someone else,
such as medications prescribed for your spouse, parents, or children.
Using someone else’s prescription drugs can result in a positive
Federal test result.
Direct Observation Urine Collection
regulations require a collector or observer to directly observe you while you
provide your urine specimen if:
previous urine specimen was out of normal temperature range; or
collector previously observed you attempting to tamper or substitute a
previous test result was invalid due to an interfering substance and you did
not have a legitimate medical explanation; or
split specimen could not be tested following a non-negative test result.
railroad may also collect your specimen under direct observation if your test is
a return-to-duty or follow-up test. The
collector (or the observer) must be of the same gender as you for direct
(If you have difficulty providing a urine specimen)
your first unsuccessful attempt to provide an acceptable specimen, you have
up to 3 hours to produce a single specimen of sufficient volume (you can’t
combine specimens). You can
consume up to 40 ounces of fluid.
you do not provide a specimen within those 3 hours, you must undergo a
medical evaluation to determine if there was a medical reason for your
inability to do so. If a physician determines that there was no medical
reason for your failure to provide a urine specimen, you will be charged
with a refusal.
of service limitations generally apply to random collections except when the
collector determines a direct observation collection is required (as
Refusal to Test
refusal to take a Federal test usually has harsher penalties than a positive
test result. Never refuse to
cooperate with the testing requirements. Take
the test and if needed, address any issues you have later.
A refusal includes:
to appear for a test
to remain at the testing site
to cooperate with the testing process
to provide a sufficient amount of breath or urine (without an adequate
medical explanation as
determined by a physician through a required medical evaluation)
or substitution of your urine specimen.
are only a few procedural errors serious enough to be considered “fatal”
flaws that cause a Federal drug or alcohol test to be cancelled.
A fatal flaw is a non-correctable procedural error which calls into
question whether the specimen tested was really yours or whether the test result
on your specimen was correct (for example, if the specimen ID numbers on your
specimen bottle do not match those on your test form).
Highway/Rail Grade Crossing Accidents
you are involved in a collision at a grade crossing and a law enforcement
officer asks you to take a drug and/or alcohol test, advise him/her that FRA
does not permit railroads to conduct Federal post-accident testing on
train crews involved in grade crossing collisions. Since FRA regulations cover this situation, State and local
laws on toxicological testing after rail accidents usually do not apply.
But, an officer can still require you to be tested if he or she
has “probable cause” to suspect that you were impaired (this has to be more
than just the fact that an accident occurred - for example, the officer finds an
open beer bottle in the cab) at the time of the accident.
FRA does not advise resistance to law enforcement action.
You must comply if the officer decides to test you.
A carrier officer should become involved in this discussion immediately.
Voluntary Referral and Co-Worker Report Policies
railroad employer must have both of these programs available if you decide
to voluntarily initiate action to address a substance abuse problem, whether
that problem is yours or a co-worker’s.
you ask for help or a co-worker refers you under one of these programs, the
railroad must keep you in their employment, maintain your confidentiality,
and provide you up to 45 days leave of absence for treatment.
must follow the program’s guidelines to maintain these employee
protections. The railroad is
required to offer you only one “bite at the apple,” but programs vary.
Check with your employer.
more complete information review 49 CFR Part 40 and Part 219, ask your union
representative, or your employer’s Designated Employer Representative (DER) to
share additional information with you.
Text of the CFR is available at http://www.fra.dot.gov
(site search for Drug and Alcohol Program).