DOT Accepts Oral Fluid Drug Testing as a Valid Method of Testing

The transportation industry plays a critical role in keeping our economy moving; ensuring the safety of those who work within that industry is of utmost importance. Drug and alcohol abuse among transportation workers can have serious consequences, putting not only the workers themselves but also the general public at risk.

To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established regulations requiring transportation employers to implement drug and alcohol testing programs for employees in safety-sensitive positions. The DOT has recently published new guidelines that add oral fluid testing as an acceptable testing method for these programs. In addition, the oral fluid must be “subdivided, secured, and labeled in the presence of the tested individual”, but more on the specifics of the new regulations later.

First, What is Oral Fluid Testing?

Oral fluid testing, commonly referred to as saliva-based testing, is a non-invasive technique for finding drugs and alcohol in a person’s system. During the test, saliva is collected from the subject’s mouth using an absorbent pad or swab. The sample is then examined utilizing cutting-edge laboratory methods for the presence of drugs and alcohol.

Why Oral Fluid Now?

You may remember in 2004 when the governing bodies deemed “..the science supporting oral fluid testing did not meet the standards of HHS..” Later scientific research reviewed in 2019 satisfied the standard set by the DOT. In these new regulations, the DOT states “The scientific viability of oral fluid testing has greatly advanced since 2004 to the point where HHS determined, in 2019, that the methodology is accurate and appropriate for Federal employee testing”.

Benefits of Oral Fluid Testing

Oral fluid testing offers several advantages over traditional urine and breath testing methods. One major advantage is that it provides a shorter detection window for drugs and alcohol, as quickly as 10 minutes after consumption of some drugs. Urine testing must wait for the metabolism process to take place before detection and breath only detects alcohol.

In addition, oral fluid testing is less invasive and more hygienic, as it does not require the collection of a urine sample. Tests like the EZ Saliva-II™ can be administered quickly and easily, and the initial results are available in as little as 5 minutes.

Finally, saliva-based testing is typically far less expensive than traditional urine testing when taking company liability, loss of production, and paying someone to travel to a 3rd party testing facility are all considered.

New Guidelines for Transportation Employers

The new guidelines from the Federal Register apply to transportation employers who are required to implement drug and alcohol testing programs for employees in safety-sensitive positions, such as commercial truck and bus drivers, airline pilots and crew members, and railroad employees. The new guidelines are a response to “help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a less intrusive means of achieving the safety goal of the program”.

Under the new guidelines, transportation employers will be able to use oral fluid testing as an acceptable testing method, so long as the sample is “subdivided… In the presence of the individual.” This is where the EZ Saliva-II™ comes in, It is the only saliva-based drug test that provides a split-sample, which is a subdivided sample for drug testing. In addition to the existing urine and breath testing methods, oral fluid is now allowed as long as it satisfies these requirements and more. The EZ Saliva-II™ is the only saliva-based drug test that fully complies with the new DOT regulations.


The addition of oral fluid testing as an acceptable testing method for transportation workplace drug and alcohol testing programs is a positive step forward for ensuring the safety of transportation workers and the general public. Oral fluid testing offers several benefits over traditional testing methods, and employers should consider incorporating this method into their drug and alcohol testing programs.

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