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1. Distractions
It is important not to be distracted while conducting a test. Be sure your co-workers know not to disturb any technician performing a breath alcohol test (or urine drug screen collection). Do not initiate any conversations, in person or on the telephone, that are not directly related to the test.

2. Missing Steps
Don’t try to rush through the process. The steps in the DOT test protocol must be performed in a specific order. Leaving out a step or changing the sequence can impede your ability to defend the test result when tests are challenged by the donor. Plus, it makes it harder to remember what to do if you don’t perform the steps exactly the same way each time you do an alcohol test.

3. Unnecessary Dialog with the Subject
While the BAT needs to be able to communicate with the subject to provide instructions s/he should avoid unnecessary conversation. Any discussion of non-test related topics should be avoided. Subjects such as sports or politics can be very sensitive for some people and could lead to accusations of bias.

4. Ignoring EBT Instrument Displays
A Breath Alcohol Technician should always pay very close attention to the information displayed by the EBT. The BAT may need to recall certain information at a later time. In addition, there are things that need to be observed by the donor during the test process (e.g.; test number, air blank, test results). By paying close attention to the device display the BAT can follow the proper sequence on every test.

5. Not Communicating with the DER
The Designated Employer Representative is the person the BAT is required to contact with the results of a breath alcohol test. In addition, the DER is to be contacted in the event there is a problem with the test or the donor. The DER is also responsible for informing the collection site whether the test is DOT or non DOT, stating the reason for the test, and providing current contact information for Step 1. The BAT cannot begin a test if there is no DER contact information. Your facility should establish a policy for getting this information and keeping it up to date.

We live in a busy world and you may be tempted to rush through drug or alcohol tests to get to your next task. You must keep in mind that federal laws require that Department of Transportation tests be conducted in a specific way. Skipping steps, either inadvertently or on purpose, can leave you open to citations and fines.

Adam Bell


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