The Department of Transportation (DOT) is constantly changing its drug testing rules.
This is not only to adapt as new substances – over-the-counter, prescription, and illicit – hit the scene. It’s also to adapt to the many ways in which bad actors try to cheat testing rules.
Staying Ahead Of The Game
In 2008, the DOT introduced rules in response to workers using new methods to tamper with drug test results. They modified observation procedures to include checking for “items designed specifically to cheat the test.” (One example that cheaters use is a type of collapsible water bottle that they then fill with “clean” urine – either another person’s, or the synthetic variety.)
The DOT also started to require collectors to observe all tests for transportation workers who returned to their jobs after previously failing a test.
And in 2017, the opioid crisis prompted the DOT to make even more changes. The Department expanded its drug testing panel to include certain semi-synthetic opioids. They were: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.
“Department of Transportation regulations requiring that commercial drivers be tested for drugs are in place to keep our roads and highways safe,” said Sacramento U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. “We will prosecute those who put public safety at risk by disregarding these regulations for their own personal gain.”
Bribes For Clean Tests
With their livelihoods at stake, it’s no surprise that some workers try to cheat the DOT’s drug tests.
Drug testing company First Choice Testing “sees more positive drug tests for DOT workers who are ‘surprised’ with a random test than we do if they are taking a Pre-Employment test. Pre-Employment applicants can simply stop using drugs long enough to get a negative test result.”
The company also encounters drivers willing to offer cash for a clean sample. “Throughout the years, all of [our] collectors have had donors attempt to bribe them.”
Forged Test Results
Workers aren’t the only ones who sometimes try to cheat the system. Some drug testing companies also try to break the rules.
On November 21, law enforcement charged the owner of a drug screening company in Shelton, Washington with mail fraud for helping truck drivers cheat random drug tests.
From 2009 to March 2015 the company, Premium Screenings, performed DOT drug and alcohol testing for its clients.
Premium Screenings was responsible for paying laboratories to test urine samples. But of the nearly 600 samples collected by Premium Screenings, their laboratories only tested 94. The company’s owner was charged with forging the remaining reports and sending them to the company’s clients via U.S. Mail.
In 2013 another drug testing facility, this one in Redding, CA, also got caught in a scheme to falsify drug test results.
Instead of sending specimens collected from drivers to laboratories for review, the owner of Advanced Substance Abuse Programs allegedly created fraudulent documents “purportedly signed by doctors indicating that the drug tests had come back negative.” The owner was charged with 25 counts of mail fraud. Law enforcement also charged him with making false statements to a government agency.
The Department of Transportation will surely have to make more changes in the future to stay ahead of drug test cheats. It’s all part of the ongoing fight to make our roads as safe as they can possibly be.
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