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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Am I obligated to conduct an alcohol return-to-duty test if my employee previously tested positive on a drug test?

View the full FAQ here.

No. An employer is obligated under 14 CFR §§ 120.109(e) and 120.217(e) to conduct a return-to-duty drug or alcohol test prior to returning an employee to work following a violation.  The type of return-to-duty test an employer must conduct depends on what type of violation triggered the requirement for the test.  For example, if an employee tested positive on a random drug test, an employer is obligated to only conduct a return-to-duty drug test under direct observation and have a negative result prior to returning the employee to work. In accordance with 49 CFR § 40.305(a), the return-to-duty test cannot occur until after the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) has determined that the employee has successfully complied with the prescribed education and/or treatment.

The SAP must provide the employer’s Designated Employer Representative (DER) with a follow-up drug and/or alcohol testing plan; however, it is not the SAP’s responsibility to direct return-to-duty testing to an employer.  If a SAP instructs an employer to conduct drug and alcohol follow-up testing, the employer must conduct both tests in accordance with 49 CFR § 40.309, 14 CFR §§ 120.109(f)(3) and 120.217(f)(3), and the SAP Guidelines.

If you have any further questions or need guidance that is more specific to your situation, please contact the FAA’s Drug Abatement Division at (202) 267-8442 or 

Please visit our Web site to learn more about our program.

Applicable Regulations:

49 CFR § 40.305(a)
49 CFR § 40.309
14 CFR § 120.109(e)
14 CFR § 120.217(e)