Increase of the USDOT Random Drug Testing Rate

Published on: November 25, 2020

What Happened? Effective January 1, 2019, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced that the minimum annual rate of random drug testing will increase from 25% to 50%. This applies to all entities receiving FTA Section 5307, 5309, 5311, or 5339 funding, including recipients, subrecipients, and applicable safety-sensitive contractors. The minimum random testing rate for alcohol remains unchanged and stays at 10% for CY2019.

Background. The old minimum random drug testing rate of 25% had been in effect from 2007 through 2018. However, due to the reported positive drug test violation rate being greater that 1.0% in CY2017, FTA is required by federal statute to increase the minimum annual rate of random drug testing to 50 percent.

Workplace Impact. As an employer, you must ensure that whoever is charged with the responsibility of selecting your safety-sensitive employees for random drug and alcohol testing is aware of this change and that they are fully prepared to implement the changes starting January 1, 2019.

If you manage a drug & alcohol testing program with both FTA covered employees as well as FMCSA covered employees, please be aware that the FMCSA minimum random drug testing rate will remain at 25% in CY2019. If you have two separate random testing pools for FTA employees and FMCSA employees, then your FMCSA random testing pool can remain at 25% for random drug testing. However, if you have one random testing pool where you mix employees covered by FTA along with employees covered by FMCSA, then you must test the entire pool at the higher rate of 50% for random drug testing.

Policies. Additionally, employers must check their drug & alcohol testing policies. If your D&A policy references the old random drug testing rate of 25%, you must update your D&A policy. However, if the language in your D&A policy is more generalized, such as “ACME Transit will conduct random drug and alcohol testing at the minimum testing rates established by FTA,” then your D&A policy will not need to be modified.

Reference. At the link provided below, you can find this update in the Federal Register Vol. 83, No. 238, issued on December 12, 2018; as well as the “dear colleague” letter from the Acting FTA Administrator.

Federal Register:

FTA “Dear Colleague”:


This article was published in the RTAP February 2020 newsletter, published by RLS & Associates.

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