One of the most important pieces of information a BAT needs prior to beginning a drug or alcohol test is whether the test is DOT or non DOT. This information will dictate which Alcohol Test Form will be used and what procedures the BAT will follow.
The federal regulations in 49 CFR Part 40.225 specify “The DOT Alcohol Testing Form (ATF) must be used for every DOT alcohol test.” Additionally, 49 CFR Part 40.227 states that BATs are prohibited from using a DOT ATF for non-DOT alcohol tests. This section also stipulates that if a BAT (by mistake or due to difficult circumstances) uses a non-DOT ATF, the BAT must provide an affidavit stating that the incorrect form contained all information necessary for a valid DOT test, why the improper ATF was used, and what steps are being taken to prevent future occurrences of this error. This corrective statement must be provided the same day that error is discovered.
DOT testing is federally regulated and must be conducted as specified in 49 CFR Part 40. Neither the BAT nor the employer can change the way the test is to be conducted, the form to be used or the consequences of the results. The testing procedures set forth in Part 40 are mandatory and any deviation from regulatory requirements could result in enforcement action.
Non-DOT tests are outside the scope of these federal regulations and can be conducted as the employer sees fit, keeping in mind applicable state laws regarding employment drug and alcohol testing. The testing procedures set forth in 49 CFR Part 40 can be considered the gold standard for breath alcohol testing in the workplace. By mirroring the DOT protocol for non-regulated tests, BATs and employers have a consistent path to follow.
It is the DER’s responsibility to determine whether the test to be conducted is DOT or non-DOT and to notify the BAT of this information along with the proper reason for the test. For a DOT Specimen Collection, the DER should also provide the DOT operating agency for the employee being tested. It is important for a DOT BAT or Collector to understand that the employer authorizes all alcohol and drug tests and must provide the technician with all necessary information.
Let’s say the employee arrives at the testing location and the employer has not provided the reason for the test or whether or not the test is DOT or non-DOT. In this case, the BAT/Collector must contact the DER to obtain the information. Do not guess and do not depend on the employee to provide accurate information. Many collection sites and employers have procedures in place to relay test information to service providers, such as authorization forms, emails, or even phone calls.