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Department of Transportation Publishes Final Rule on Drug Testing

On November 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule making significant changes to 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 40, which affects employers administering drug tests in the transportation industry. The final rule states that its purpose is to remain current with the changes made to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs, which were announced in early 2017.

The DOT’s new rule adds hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone to its drug testing panel. It also adds methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte and removes methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte.

The revised regulations additionally eliminate the requirement that employers submit blind specimens for testing. The DOT says that it has made this change to relieve costs and administrative burdens for employers. It also found that blind specimens are no longer necessary in light of improved testing accuracy since the blind sample testing requirement was first imposed at the inception of the DOT’s drug testing program.

The new regulations reflect, in part, the DOT’s effort to combat the opioid epidemic confronting the country—particularly in relation to individuals in safety-sensitive positions regulated by the DOT. In announcing the final rule, Secretary Elaine L. Chao explained, “The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

Employers with drug testing policies subject to DOT regulation may want to take steps now to conform their policies to the new requirements, which will take effect on January 1, 2018.

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About this Author

Eric Hobbs, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney

Eric Hobbs is a shareholder whose practice focuses on labor and employment, with an emphasis on employment counseling and policy development, occupational safety and health, employment discrimination litigation worker’s compensation, wage-hour matters, and clergy abuse. He also has experience in wage-hour, employment discrimination and multi-district class action cases.

Mr. Hobbs represents employers of all sizes in a variety of industries from service to heavy manufacturing. He has litigated before state and federal agencies and courts...

Jesse R. Dill attorney Ogletree Deakins

Jesse has a wide range of employment law litigation and compliance counseling experience. He has obtained successful verdicts for his clients in multiple forums, including state circuit courts, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service arbitration proceedings, and administrative hearings before the Equal Rights Division. This litigation experience complements Jesse’s compliance counseling for clients on all aspects of the employment relationship. He regularly assists clients to assess legal liability related to personnel decisions, prepare employment law policies that comply with federal and state law, protect confidential and trade secret information, and respond to charges by administrative agencies. Jesse has been quoted as a legal expert for issues related to social media and the workplace by CNN and Fortune.

Jesse is an active member in the legal and civic communities. He is Vice-Chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin Leadership Development Commission, Co-Chair of the Milwaukee Bar