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Q&As for Safety-Sensitive Employees

The following questions are the most common inquiries received by the FAA's Drug Abatement Division from individuals or employees who perform safety-sensitive functions and are subject to Federal drug and alcohol testing in the aviation industry. The questions and responses below aim to bring greater understanding and awareness to the Federal drug and alcohol testing regulations [49 CFR part 40 and 14 CFR part 120].

  1. What constitutes a violation of the FAA's drug and alcohol testing regulation?
  2. What steps must I take to return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions after I violated the FAA's drug and alcohol testing regulation?
  3. I tested positive for marijuana on a DOT/FAA drug test, but recreational use of marijuana is legal in my state. Will my test be cancelled?
  4. My employer told me that I refused to test. But I didn't. I just walked outside the collection site to smoke a cigarette and make a call. Did I refuse?
  5. If I cannot provide sufficient urine during a drug test, is it a refusal?
  6. How soon do I have to report to the testing site once I am notified?
  7. Why am I selected for random testing several times a year and some of my coworkers never get tested?
  8. Who pays for my meeting with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and my treatment program?
  9. Do I need to complete the return-to-duty process after my violation if I leave aviation for a long period and return later?
  10. What will happen if I return to work after a violation and I don't complete the return-to-duty process?
  11. As a pilot who flies internationally for a U.S. air carrier, am I subject to drug and alcohol testing when I fly outside of the United States?

The following questions are frequently asked by individuals who are being investigated by the FAA Drug Abatement Division, Special Investigations Branch and receive a Letter of Investigation (LOI) regarding a drug/alcohol violation.

  1. I received a letter of investigation from the FAA because of my drug or alcohol violation. Who do I contact to discuss my case?
  2. If I have already completed the return-to-duty process described in part 40, can I return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions while the FAA is conducting its investigation?
  3. If my certificate has been revoked, how do I get it back?
  4. My LOI states that I may be preliminarily eligible to participate in the FAA's Prompt Settlement Policy. What is that?

If you have any additional questions regarding the DOT/FAA drug and alcohol testing program, please contact the Drug Abatement Division via email at or call (202) 267-8442.

The Department of Transportation's Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance has also published a list of Frequently Asked Questions by employees.

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