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Workplace Drug Testing Issues – Iowa State Laws

Use caution when drug testing in Iowa, have a written policy and follow Iowa laws carefully.

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

On May 9, 2017, Iowa Governor Harry Branstad signed into law an Act allowing private sector pre-employment drug testing using hair samples.  This law went into effect on July 1, 2017.  Prior to the passage of this law, Iowa only allowed private sector testing for drugs of abuse through urine, blood, and oral fluid. 

Workplace Drug Testing Laws in Iowa

Instant or POCT Testing


Lab confirmation on non-negative instant results

Drug Panels

No Restrictions


License Required

SAMHSA – DOT rules required

Medical Review Officer


SAMHSA – DOT rules required

Random Testing

No Restrictions


No Restrictions

Reasonable Suspicion

No Restrictions

Oral Fluids


Split specimen required

Hair Testing

Allowed as of 07/01/2017

As of 07/01/2017 - The Iowa Department of Public Health is currently in the process of formulating administrative rules to govern the testing of hair for drugs of abuse.

Unemployment Denial


Must have drug free workplace policy, terminate for misconduct – violating the policy.

Workers Comp Discount


Intoxication Defense


No claim will be paid if the injury caused by the employee's intoxication, which did not arise out of and in the course of employment but which was due to the effects of alcohol or another narcotic, depressant, stimulant, hallucinogenic, or hypnotic drug not prescribed by an authorized medical practitioner, if the intoxication was a substantial factor in causing the injury. Iowa Code Ann. 85.16

Medical Marijuana


Recreational Marijuana


Report Driver DOT Positives


General Statute

Iowa law doesn’t require drug testing, nor does it encourage or discourage testing. The purpose of the State of Iowa’s private sector drug testing law—Iowa Code Section 730.5 (& Iowa Administrative Code Section 641)—is to enhance worker safety by creating workplaces that are free of drugs and substance abuse or misuse. Private sector drug or alcohol testing is optional in Iowa. However, employers who choose to test can do so only after developing and disseminating a written policy.

Iowa’s private sector drug testing law—Iowa Code Section 730.5

A written policy is required for workplace drug testing.

Intoxication Defense - Iowa Code Ann. 85.16

Unemployment Denial - Iowa Code Ann. 96.5(2)

Intoxication Defense – Denial of Workers Compensation Claim - 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 refusal or 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 development or edit of your actual substance abuse testing program and with any questions that follow.

State Law Iowa