Direct observation required for follow-up drug tests

Posted on September 1, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. — School bus drivers and other CDL holders who fail or refuse to take a drug test will have to be directly observed in a test before returning to duty.

The requirement came in a Final Rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that is intended to prevent cheating on drug tests by “safety-sensitive transportation industry employees.”

In the direct observation process, the employee has to expose his or her genitals to a same-gender observer to verify the absence of cheating devices, such as the “Whizzinator.” The observer then watches the employee urinate into the collection container.

The requirement had been stayed by a federal appeals court, but the stay was lifted in July following the court’s unanimous decision to uphold the DOT’s position.

“Safety is the highest priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and restoring our direct observation drug testing rules helps to support this mission,” the agency said in a statement.

Robin Leeds, industry specialist for the National School Transportation Association, said that since most school bus operations use a third-party tester rather than conduct their own testing, the impact of the rule should be minimal for most employers.

David Peterson, communications officer for the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation, said that school bus operations should make their drivers aware of the rule and most likely address it in their drug testing policies.

DOT planned to make updates to the related guidance documents on its Website,, on Aug. 31, the effective date of the rule. Those downloadable documents include what employees and employers need to know about DOT drug and alcohol testing.

The Final Rule can be viewed at


Related Topics: drug use/testing

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