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Hair Testing - DOT

08 Dec 2015

AUTHORIZATION OF HAIR TESTING AS AN ACCEPTABLE PROCEDURE FOR DOT PREEMPLOYMENT AND DOT RANDOM CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE TESTS

On Dec. 4, 2015, Congress passed H.R. 22, an act to authorize funds for federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes. 

Specifically, hair testing has been authorized in conducting pre-employment testing for use of a controlled substance, random testing for the use of a controlled substance if the operator was subject to hair testing for pre-employment testing. It is important to note that this is an initial authorization for hair testing but regulations and guidelines still need to be established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In fact, no later than 1 year after the date of enactment, HHS shall issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing as a method of detecting the use of a controlled substance for the purpose of section 31306 of title 49, United States Code.

Hair testing involves comparing testing a follicle of hair for signs of drugs within a window that is typically about 90 days long. Traditional urine testing typically only captures drug use within a shorter period of a couple of weeks. 

Note: This is authorized by Congress, but not yet allowed in the DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Program.

The bill provides for a report back to Congress:

SEC. 5. ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS.

The Secretary of Transportation shall submit an annual report to Congress that-

  1. summarizes the results of preemployment and random drug testing using both hair testing and urinalysis;
  2. evaluates the efficacy of each method; and
  3. determines which method provides the most accurate means of detecting the use of controlled substances over time.