Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, P.C.


Transportation Law Alert: DOT Adds Four Semi-Synthetic Opioids to Its Industry Drug Testing Panel

by Thomas  E. O'Donnell, Brandon K. Wiseman, Timothy W. Wiseman

November 15, 2017

DOT Adds Four Semi-Synthetic Opioids to Its Industry Drug Testing Panel

In a Final Rule published in the Federal Register on November 13th, the Department of Transportation (DOT) added four semi-synthetic opioids to its drug testing panel for DOT-regulated industries. Beginning January 1, 2018, all drivers and other safety-sensitive employees in the transportation industry will be required to be tested for the opioids hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. The Department also will use the term “opioids” to replace “opiates” in the definition of “Drugs” under Part 40.  Motor carriers will likely need to revise their written drug and alcohol testing policies to address these new testing requirements.  

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao in a press release. “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.” 

The DOT stated that the addition of the four semi-synthetic opioids to its testing panel was also, in part, to harmonize Part 40 with existing Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines. It also acknowledged that many transportation companies were already testing for the four drugs in their non-DOT testing programs. The Department announced the it was adding methylenedioxyamphetamine as an initial test analyte and removing methylenedioxethylamphetamine as a confirmatory test analyte in the DOT-required urine testing process. 

The DOT Final Rule also included the following:

  • Employers and Consortium/Third Party Administers will no longer have to submit blind samples as part of the DOT-mandated drug testing process. The Department based this decision, in part, on its finding that in over 25 years of drug testing, not one false positive result was found through the testing of blind specimens.
  • A requirement that key personnel in the drug and alcohol testing process (i.e., collectors, BATs, STTs, MROs, SAPs) subscribe to the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) list-serve.
  • “MRO Practice Issues” that amends the term “prescription” under Part 40 to mean “a legally valid prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act.” It also adopts the NPRM’s proposal to authorize MROs to conduct testing for D, L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine and THC-V.
  • Three additional “fatal flaws” were added that would cause a controlled substance test to be cancelled: 1) There is no CCF; 2) two separate collections were performed using one CCF; and 3) in cases where a specimen has been collected, there is no specimen submitted with the CCF. 

For questions about best practices or revising your policies, please contact Tim Wiseman, Tom O’Donnell, or Brandon Wiseman.    


Scopelitis Transportation Law Alerts are intended as a report to our clients and friends on legal developments affecting the transportation industry. The published material does not constitute an exhaustive legal study and should not be regarded or relied upon as individual legal advice or opinion

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