Subpart N – Problems in Alcohol Testing

§ 40.261 What is a refusal to take an alcohol test, and what are the consequences?
(a) As an employee, you are considered to have refused to take an alcohol test if you:
(1) Fail to appear for any test (except a pre-employment test) within a reasonable time, as determined by the employer, consistent with applicable DOT agency regulations, after being directed to do so by the employer. This includes the failure of an employee (including an owner-operator) to appear for a test when called by a C/TPA (see §40.241(a));
(2) Fail to remain at the testing site until the testing process is complete; Provided, That an employee who leaves the testing site before the testing process commences (see §40.243(a)) for a pre-employment test is not deemed to have refused to test;
(3) Fail to provide an adequate amount of saliva or breath for any alcohol test required by this part or DOT agency regulations; Provided, That an employee who does not provide an adequate amount of breath or saliva because he or she has left the testing site before the testing process commences (see §40.243(a)) for a pre-employment test is not deemed to have refused to test;
(4) Fail to provide a sufficient breath specimen, and the physician has determined, through a required medical evaluation, that there was no adequate medical explanation for the failure (see §40.265(c));
(5) Fail to undergo a medical examination or evaluation, as directed by the employer as part of the insufficient breath procedures outlined at §40.265(c);
(6) Fail to sign the certification at Step 2 of the ATF (see §§40.241(g) and 40.251(d)); or
(7) Fail to cooperate with any part of the testing process.
(b) As an employee, if you refuse to take an alcohol test, you incur the same consequences specified under DOT agency regulations for a violation of those DOT agency regulations.
(c) As a BAT or an STT, or as the physician evaluating a “shy lung” situation, when an employee refuses to test as provided in paragraph (a) of this section, you must terminate the portion of the testing process in which you are involved, document the refusal on the ATF (or in a separate document which you cause to be attached to the form), immediately notify the DER by any means (e.g., telephone or secure fax machine) that ensures the refusal notification is immediately received. You must make this notification directly to the DER (not using a C/TPA as an intermediary).
(d) As an employee, when you refuse to take a non-DOT test or to sign a non-DOT form, you have not refused to take a DOT test. There are no consequences under DOT agency regulations for such a refusal.

[65 FR 79526, Dec. 19, 2000, as amended at 66 FR 41954, Aug. 9, 2001]

§ 40.263 What happens when an employee is unable to provide a sufficient amount of saliva for an alcohol screening test?
(a) As the STT, you must take the following steps if an employee is unable to provide sufficient saliva to complete a test on a saliva screening device (e.g., the employee does not provide sufficient saliva to activate the device).
(1) You must conduct a new screening test using a new screening device.
(2) If the employee refuses to make the attempt to complete the new test, you must discontinue testing, note the fact on the “Remarks” line of the ATF, and immediately notify the DER. This is a refusal to test.
(3) If the employee has not provided a sufficient amount of saliva to complete the new test, you must note the fact on the “Remarks” line of the ATF and immediately notify the DER.
(b) As the DER, when the STT informs you that the employee has not provided a sufficient amount of saliva (see paragraph (a)(3) of this section), you must immediately arrange to administer an alcohol test to the employee using an EBT or other breath testing device.

§ 40.265 What happens when an employee is unable to provide a sufficient amount of breath for an alcohol test?
(a) If an employee does not provide a sufficient amount of breath to permit a valid breath test, you must take the steps listed in this section.
(b) As the BAT or STT, you must instruct the employee to attempt again to provide a sufficient amount of breath and about the proper way to do so.
(1) If the employee refuses to make the attempt, you must discontinue the test, note the fact on the “Remarks” line of the ATF, and immediately notify the DER. This is a refusal to test.
(2) If the employee again attempts and fails to provide a sufficient amount of breath, you may provide another opportunity to the employee to do so if you believe that there is a strong likelihood that it could result in providing a sufficient amount of breath.
(3) When the employee’s attempts under paragraph (b)(2) of this section have failed to produce a sufficient amount of breath, you must note the fact on the “Remarks” line of the ATF and immediately notify the DER.
(4) If you are using an EBT that has the capability of operating manually, you may attempt to conduct the test in manual mode.
(5) If you are qualified to use a saliva ASD and you are in the screening test stage, you may change to a saliva ASD only to complete the screening test.
(c) As the employer, when the BAT or STT informs you that the employee has not provided a sufficient amount of breath, you must direct the employee to obtain, within five days, an evaluation from a licensed physician who is acceptable to you and who has expertise in the medical issues raised by the employee’s failure to provide a sufficient specimen.
(1) You are required to provide the physician who will conduct the evaluation with the following information and instructions:
(i) That the employee was required to take a DOT breath alcohol test, but was unable to provide a sufficient amount of breath to complete the test;
(ii) The consequences of the appropriate DOT agency regulation for refusing to take the required alcohol test;
(iii) That the physician must provide you with a signed statement of his or her conclusions; and
(iv) That the physician, in his or her reasonable medical judgment, must base those conclusions on one of the following determinations:
(A) A medical condition has, or with a high degree of probability could have, precluded the employee from providing a sufficient amount of breath. The physician must not include in the signed statement detailed information on the employee’s medical condition. In this case, the test is cancelled.
(B) There is not an adequate basis for determining that a medical condition has, or with a high degree of probability could have, precluded the employee from providing a sufficient amount of breath. This constitutes a refusal to test.
(C) For purposes of paragraphs (c)(1)(iv)(A) and (B) of this section, a medical condition includes an ascertainable physiological condition (e.g., a respiratory system dysfunction) or a medically documented pre-existing psychological disorder, but does not include unsupported assertions of “situational anxiety” or hyperventilation.
(2) As the physician making the evaluation, after making your determination, you must provide a written statement of your conclusions and the basis for them to the DER directly (and not through a C/TPA acting as an intermediary). You must not include in this statement detailed information on the employee’s medical condition beyond what is necessary to explain your conclusion.
(3) Upon receipt of the report from the examining physician, as the DER you must immediately inform the employee and take appropriate action based upon your DOT agency regulations.

§ 40.267 What problems always cause an alcohol test to be cancelled?
As an employer, a BAT, or an STT, you must cancel an alcohol test if any of the following problems occur. These are “fatal flaws.” You must inform the DER that the test was cancelled and must be treated as if the test never occurred. These problems are:
(a) In the case of a screening test conducted on a saliva ASD or a breath tube ASD:
(1) The STT or BAT reads the result either sooner than or later than the time allotted by the manufacturer and this Part (see §40.245(a)(8) for the saliva ASD and §40.245(b)(8) for the breath tube ASD).
(2) The saliva ASD does not activate (see §40.245(a)(7); or
(3) The device is used for a test after the expiration date printed on the device or on its package (see §40.245(a)(1) for the saliva ASD and §40.245(b)(1) for the breath tube ASD).
(4) The breath tube ASD is tested with an analyzer which has not been pre-calibrated for that device’s specific lot (see §40.245(b)(1)).
(b) In the case of a screening or confirmation test conducted on an EBT, the sequential test number or alcohol concentration displayed on the EBT is not the same as the sequential test number or alcohol concentration on the printed result (see §40.253(c), (e) and (f)).
(c) In the case of a confirmation test:
(1) The BAT conducts the confirmation test before the end of the minimum 15-minute waiting period (see §40.251(a)(1));
(2) The BAT does not conduct an air blank before the confirmation test (see §40.253(a));
(3) There is not a 0.00 result on the air blank conducted before the confirmation test (see §40.253(a)(1) and (2));
(4) The EBT does not print the result (see §40.253(f)); or
(5) The next external calibration check of the EBT produces a result that differs by more than the tolerance stated in the QAP from the known value of the test standard. In this case, every result of 0.02 or above obtained on the EBT since the last valid external calibration check is cancelled (see §40.233(a)(1) and (c)(3)).

[65 FR 79526, Dec. 19, 2000, as amended at 67 FR 61522, Oct. 1, 2002; 71 FR 49384. Aug. 23, 2006; 72 FR 1299, Jan. 11, 2007; 75 FR 8526, February 25, 2010]

§ 40.269 What problems cause an alcohol test to be cancelled unless they are corrected?
As a BAT or STT, or employer, you must cancel an alcohol test if any of the following problems occur, unless they are corrected. These are “correctable flaws.” These problems are:
(a) The BAT or STT does not sign the ATF (see §§40.247(a)(1) and 40.255(a)(1)).
(b) The BAT or STT fails to note on the “Remarks” line of the ATF that the employee has not signed the ATF after the result is obtained (see §40.255(a)(3)).
(c) The BAT or STT uses a non-DOT form for the test (see §40.225(a)).

[65 FR 79526, Dec. 19, 2000, amended at 71 FR 49384, Aug. 23, 2006]

§ 40.271 How are alcohol testing problems corrected?
(a) As a BAT or STT, you have the responsibility of trying to complete successfully an alcohol test for each employee.
(1) If, during or shortly after the testing process, you become aware of any event that will cause the test to be cancelled (see §40.267 ), you must try to correct the problem promptly, if practicable. You may repeat the testing process as part of this effort.
(2) If repeating the testing process is necessary, you must begin a new test as soon as possible. You must use a new ATF, a new sequential test number, and, if needed, a new ASD and/or a new EBT. It is permissible to use additional technical capabilities of the EBT (e.g., manual operation) if you have been trained to do so in accordance with §40.213(c) .
(3) If repeating the testing process is necessary, you are not limited in the number of attempts to complete the test, provided that the employee is making a good faith effort to comply with the testing process.
(4) If another testing device is not available for the new test at the testing site, you must immediately notify the DER and advise the DER that the test could not be completed. As the DER who receives this information, you must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the test is conducted at another testing site as soon as possible.
(b) If, as an STT, BAT, employer or other service agent administering the testing process, you become aware of a “correctable flaw” (see §40.269 ) that has not already been corrected, you must take all practicable action to correct the problem so that the test is not cancelled.
(1) If the problem resulted from the omission of required information, you must, as the person responsible for providing that information, supply in writing the missing information and a signed statement that it is true and accurate. For example, suppose you are a BAT and you forgot to make a notation on the “Remarks” line of the ATF that the employee did not sign the certification. You would, when the problem is called to your attention, supply a signed statement that the employee failed or refused to sign the certification after the result was obtained, and that your signed statement is true and accurate.
(2) If the problem is the use of a non-DOT form, you must, as the person responsible for the use of the incorrect form, certify in writing that the incorrect form contains all the information needed for a valid DOT alcohol test. You must also provide a signed statement that the incorrect form was used inadvertently or as the only means of conducting a test, in circumstances beyond your control, and the steps you have taken to prevent future use of non-DOT forms for DOT tests. You must supply this information on the same business day on which you are notified of the problem, transmitting it by fax or courier.
(c) If you cannot correct the problem, you must cancel the test.

§ 40.273 What is the effect of a cancelled alcohol test?
(a) A cancelled alcohol test is neither positive nor negative.
(1) As an employer, you must not attach to a cancelled test the consequences of a test result that is 0.02 or greater (e.g., removal from a safety-sensitive position).
(2) As an employer, you must not use a cancelled test in a situation where an employee needs a test result that is below 0.02 (e.g., in the case of a return-to-duty or follow-up test to authorize the employee to perform safety-sensitive functions).
(3) As an employer, you must not direct a recollection for an employee because a test has been cancelled, except in the situations cited in paragraph (a)(2) of this section or other provisions of this part.
(b) A cancelled test does not count toward compliance with DOT requirements, such as a minimum random testing rate.
(c) When a test must be cancelled, if you are the BAT, STT, or other person who determines that the cancellation is necessary, you must inform the affected DER within 48 hours of the cancellation.
(d) A cancelled DOT test does not provide a valid basis for an employer to conduct a non-DOT test (i.e., a test under company authority).

§ 40.275 What is the effect of procedural problems that are not sufficient to cancel an alcohol test?
(a) As an STT, BAT, employer, or a service agent administering the testing process, you must document any errors in the testing process of which you become aware, even if they are not “fatal flaws” or “correctable flaws” listed in this subpart. Decisions about the ultimate impact of these errors will be determined by administrative or legal proceedings, subject to the limitation of paragraph (b) of this section.
(b) No person concerned with the testing process may declare a test cancelled based on a mistake in the process that does not have a significant adverse effect on the right of the employee to a fair and accurate test. For example, it is inconsistent with this part to cancel a test based on a minor administrative mistake (e.g., the omission of the employee’s middle initial) or an error that does not affect employee protections under this part. Nor does the failure of an employee to sign in Step 4 of the ATF result in the cancellation of the test. Nor is a test to be cancelled on the basis of a claim by an employee that he or she was improperly selected for testing.
(c) As an employer, these errors, even though not sufficient to cancel an alcohol test result, may subject you to enforcement action under DOT agency regulations.

§ 40.277 Are alcohol tests other than saliva or breath permitted under these regulations?
No, other types of alcohol tests (e,g., blood and urine) are not authorized for testing done under this part. Only saliva or breath for screening tests and breath for confirmation tests using approved devices are permitted.