DOT Drug Testing Requirements for 2019

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With 2019 upon us, it’s time for employers to review and update their substance abuse testing programs in order to stay compliant with state laws and federal regulations. For Department of Transportation (DOT) regulated employers, the start of a new year means that updates to random rates are needed.

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FTA Raises Random Drug Testing Rates in 2019

For the first time since 2007, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) increased annual random drug testing rates to 50% in 2019. For the past 12 years, FTA random drug testing rates remained at 25%, due to FTA regulations dictating that should random drug testing positivity rates stay below 1% for the two previously calendar years, no increase is needed. 2017 saw an increase in random drug testing positives to 1.06%, requiring the FTA to raise the rate to 50% in 2019.

The FTA will keep its random alcohol testing rate at 10% for 2019, a number which has remained unchanged for many years. As of January 1, 2019, FTA-regulated employers are expected to be in compliance with the increased random drug testing rate.

FTA regulations apply to employees that perform revenue vehicle operations, revenue vehicle and equipment maintenance, revenue vehicle controls or dispatches (optional), Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) non-revenue vehicle operations, and/or armed security duties. Employers with employees covered by any of these categories need to update their company practices immediately in order to stay compliant.

USCG Increases Random Rates in 2019

United States Coast Guard (USCG) covered employees will see an increase in random testing rates in 2019. Data from the most recent reporting year showed positivity rates at greater than 1%, requiring a raise in random testing rates. The Commandant has set the minimum random drug testing rate at 50% for covered employees. Employers are expected to comply as of January 1, 2019.

USCG covered employees include any employee that is on board a vessel acting under the authority of a license, certificate or registry, or a merchant mariner’s document. Additionally, any employee engaged or employed on board a U.S. owned vessel is considered a regulated employee. Employers with USCG-regulated employees are expected to be in compliance with the random drug testing rates as of January 1, 2019.


FAA Random Rates Remain the Same in 2019

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) random drug testing rates will remain at 25% in 2019. Random alcohol testing rates will remain at 10%. As the reported random drug test positive rate remained below 1% in 2017, per FAA regulations random testing rates are permitted to stay at 25%.

FAA regulations apply to any employees that perform flight crew member duties, flight attendant duties, flight instruction duties, aircraft dispatch duties, aircraft maintenance or preventive maintenance duties, ground security coordinator duties, aviation screening duties, air traffic control duties, and/or operations control specialist duties. Employers with any employees covered under these categories must comply with the 25% and 10% random testing rates in 2019.

PHMSA Random Rates Remain Consistent in 2019

After an increase to random testing rates in 2018, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHSMA) random drug and alcohol testing rates will remain unchanged in 2019. The random drug testing rate for covered employees will remain at 50%, as the reported positive drug test rate has been above 1% for at least one of the past two calendar years.

PHMSA regulations apply to any employees that perform an operation, maintenance, or emergency-response function on a pipeline or liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility.

FRA Random Rates Continue in 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently announced that their random drug and alcohol testing rates will remain the same in 2019. Covered employees will be drug tested at a rate of 25% and alcohol tested at a rate of 10%. Maintenance-of-Way (MOW) employees became subject to FRA random testing in June 2017, and as such have separate random drug and alcohol testing rates than FRA covered employees. As there is little information yet available on MOW employees and their industry-wide drug and alcohol use rates, random drug and alcohol testing rates will remain at a higher level for 2019. MOW employees are to be tested at a 50% rate for drugs and a 25% rate for alcohol in 2019. Employers are expected to comply as of January 1, 2019.

FRA regulations apply to any employee that performs covered service (subject to the hours of service laws) functions at a rate sufficient to be placed into the railroad’s random testing program. Generally, covered employees include locomotive engineers, trainmen, conductors, switchmen, locomotive hostlers/helpers, utility employees, signalmen, operators, and/or train dispatchers. Additionally, any employee that performs a maintenance-of way/roadway worker function that is an employee or contractor of a railroad, has a potential to foul the track, and performs a regulation such as inspection, construction, maintenance or repair of railroad track, bridges, roadway, signal and communication systems. Electric traction systems, roadway facilities or roadway maintenance machinery on or near the track, flagman, and watchmen/lookouts may be covered employees.

FMCSA Random Rates Static in 2019

As of this article’s publication, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has not published their random drug and alcohol testing rates for 2019 in the Federal Register. However, FMCSA’s Drug Program Manager, Juan Jose Moya, recently announced via email that the agency’s random rates will remain static in 2019. Employers are expected to continue random drug testing their regulated employees at 25%, and random alcohol test at 10%. The FMCSA is not required to publish its random rates unless they are changing.

FMSCA regulations apply to any employees that operate (drives) a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) with a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,011 pounds, a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more occupants (including the driver), or any vehicle that is used in the transportation of hazardous materials that requires the vehicle to be placarded. FMSCA regulated employees need to be in compliance with the 2019 random drug and alcohol testing rates as of January 1, 2019.


If you’re a DISA customer with a DOT mandated pool, we will automatically update it to the correct percentages before random selections are generated for the first quarter. Please update your roster before the end of the year to ensure accuracy of your random selection.

If you have questions about 2019 DOT testing percentage, please contact DISA at

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