California - STATE LAWS

Workplace drug testing issues – State Laws – California

These categories do not effect DOT regulated drug testing. Government employers should always call for potential additional restrictions on employee drug testing.

San Francisco and Berkeley both have ordinances that restrict drug testing in a number of ways – call National Drug Screening or contact your attorney.



Workplace Drug Testing Laws in California

Instant or POCT Testing

Allowed with caution

Use trained collectors and send all non-negatives to lab for confirmation

Drug Panels

No Restrictions


Licensing requirements

Licensed laboratories required, SAMHSA certified laboratories highly recommended.

Medical Review Officer (MRO)

Not Required

Highly recommended to reduce exposure to liability.

Random Testing


Restricted to safety sensitive workers.


No Restrictions

Recommend when there is reasonable suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion

No Restrictions

Recommend only when determined by a trained supervisor

Oral Fluids

No Restrictions

Hair Testing

No Restrictions

Unemployment Denial

Yes, address in company policy

Unemployment Insurance Code §1256.4(a)(1) & (2) - State in your drug free workplace policy that a refusal to test or a positive test is misconduct. Terminate employment for misconduct.

Workers Comp Discount


Intoxication Defense


Labor Code §3600(a) & (a)(4); an injury or death arising out of employment is not compensable if caused by the employee's intoxication.

Medical Marijuana


Accommodation of medical marijuana use is not required on the property or premises of any place of employment or during the hours of employment.

Recreational Marijuana


Passed November 2016, the law protects employers who have drug-free workplace policies that prohibit marijuana use by employees.

Report Driver DOT Positives


California requires that MROs, BATs and TPAs report to the California Highway Patrol every positive DOT drug and alcohol (>0.04 BAC) test conducted on a CA CDL holder. The report does not include any individual test identification information. No reporting form has been provided.

General Statute

No general statue but several instances of case law.

Intoxication Defense - States vary in their willingness to allow employers to use an injured worker's intoxication as a defense against a claim for compensation.  State laws' intoxication defenses generally fall into one of three rough categories: defenses that do not depend on causation; defenses that require some form of proximate causation between intoxication and injury; and defenses that require that intoxication be the sole cause of injury.  Always check with your insurance company and your attorney when you have a positive post-accident test after an injury.

This chart is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal guidance. State and local law varies greatly; therefore, you are advised to consult experienced legal counsel during the design of your actual substance abuse testing program and with any questions that follow.

State Law California