Effective January 1, 2019, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) increased its annual random drug testing rate from 25% to 50%. This is the first increase in random testing rates since 2007 and is a direct result of positivity rates increasing to 1.06% in 2017.

Per FTA regulations, if there is an increase in positives to above 1% the FTA is required to raise the random testing rate to 50%. If the random positivity rate stays below 1% for two consecutive years, the FTA can lower the random testing rate from 50% back down to 25%.

According to the FTA:

  • Under 49 U.S.C. 5307, 5309, 5311, or 5339, the 50% random drug testing rate will apply to entities receiving federal assistance, including grantees, subrecipients, and safety-sensitive contractors. The required minimum rate for random alcohol testing is unaffected and will remain at 10% for calendar year 2019.
  • Under 49 U.S.C. 5331(b)(q), the FTA is required by statute to issue regulations establishing a program that requires public transportation operators that receive financial assistance under certain FTA programs to conduct, among other types of testing, random testing of public transportation employees responsible for safety-sensitive functions for the use of a controlled substance in violation of law or a Federal regulation.
  • At 49 C.F.R. 655.45, the FTA’s implementing regulation for random testing sets a default that the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing must be 50% of covered employees. The regulation allows FTA discretion to lower the minimum random drug testing rate from 50% to 25% where data for the two preceding consecutive calendar years indicate that the reported positive violation rate is less than 1%.

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