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Safety is a top priority for employees working for DOT-covered employers, especially when performing safety-sensitive roles. Individuals in these positions are often required to undergo periodic drug and alcohol testing. Should a test come back positive, the employee must be immediately removed from their position for the time being. Under FTA regulations, they are prohibited from performing any safety-sensitive tasks while under the influence.

Understanding Alcohol Regulations

When it comes to alcohol, a breath alcohol test result of 0.04 or greater is considered positive. At this point, an employee must undergo the DOT Return to Duty process and be cleared to return to work by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) that is DOT-approved. The employee is evaluated by the SAP and must complete any education or treatment required. Then, they are retested and re-evaluated before the SAP approves them to return to the job.

Any breath alcohol test result below 0.02 is considered negative. There are a variety of medications, foods, and personal hygiene products that contain trace amounts of alcohol which may register on the test. In addition, there is certain margin of accuracy when it comes to testing equipment, so anything between zero and 0.02 is considered to be zero. Employees face no consequences under FTA regulations when it comes to a result below 0.02, but employers can set their own rules on these matters.

But what about when a breath alcohol test returns a result between 0.02 and 0.04? It’s not considered positive, but it’s also not zero. This is sometimes seen as a gray area and can result in confusion from employers. Employees with an alcohol concentration between these thresholds are still considered to be under the influence and should be immediately removed from any safety-sensitive duties. They can not return to work until their next shift as long as at least eight hours have passed since the initial test, and their alcohol concentration is below 0.02 prior to returning.

Once again, employees are not subject to serious consequences for an alcohol concentration between 0.02 and less than 0.04 under FTA regulations, aside from being removed from their position until their test result is less than 0.02, but employers can establish their own policies regarding this matter. However, those policies must comply with federal, state, and local laws since alcohol is a legal substance for anyone age 21 or older.

Supporting Employees in Recovery from Alcohol Use Disorders at Experience Recovery

Should an employee fail an alcohol test, they must be referred to an SAP for further evaluation. While an employer does not have to pay for the evaluation or subsequent treatment, they must inform employees of available options for addiction treatment. Experience Recovery is experienced in working with employees from DOT-covered employers and helping them overcome substance misuse and get back to work.

Individuals in the Orange County area can find the personalized treatment they seek at Experience Recovery ranging from detox to after care services. The facility offers residential, intensive outpatient, outpatient, and return to work programs as well to meet a variety of needs. No two individuals are exactly the same, so their treatment shouldn’t be either. Experience Recovery works with clients to create a plan to help them overcome substance misuse and establish healthier routines and habits in recovery so they can return to work and their safety-sensitive duties.

Contact Experience Recovery today to learn more about our comprehensive care when it comes to addiction recovery and meeting the needs of DOT-covered employers and employees in the Orange County Area.