What You Need to Know About Federal Drug and Alcohol Testing 

Federal 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.

Drug and Alcohol Prohibitions

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 not 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:

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).

Prescription and Over-The-Counter Medications

You 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.

Direct Observation Urine Collection

Federal regulations require a collector or observer to directly observe you while you provide your urine specimen if:

The 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 observation collections.

Shy Bladder (If you have difficulty providing a urine specimen)

Refusal to Test 

A 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:

Fatal Flaws

There 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 

If 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

For 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).