Determining reasonable suspicion for a drug and alcohol test

drug and alcohol test

Doing reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing is usually the main part of most drug and alcohol testing programs. This is especially crucial for DOT testing programs. And, if a supervisor who attended a DOT testing program doesn’t test when there is a reasonable suspicion, it can be a disaster. 

For instance, a supervisor can recognize that the speech of a driver is slurred, and the driver is preparing for a long drive across the country. But the supervisor chooses to do nothing, and the driver goes off to work. The driver can then get involved in an accident that leads to fatalities, but the supervisor was in a better position to prevent this accident. The supervisor had reasonable suspicion for testing the driver. By now you may be wondering what this reasonable suspicion is all about. This article discusses determining suspicion for a drug and alcohol test. 

Reasonable suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is simply a standard of evidence. You can use reasonable suspicion to determine whether or not you have adequate evidence to test for drugs and alcohol. Ideally, if you decide to test your employee for drugs and alcohol, they need to test positive for drugs or alcohol. 

On the other hand, if you test an employee when the evidence you have doesn’t meet the standard of reasonable suspicion, it means you are infringing on the rights to privacy of your employee. But if you fail to test when the evidence meets the standard, you can risk the lives of your staff and the public, especially for DOT companies.  

You should remember that it can be tricky to know when your evidence meets this standard. Also, it can be hard to figure out if you have reasonable suspicion for doing the drug and alcohol test. This is the reason why it makes sense to attend reasonable suspicion training. If you are interested in this training, then checkout It’s worth mentioning that all safety-sensitive employees for DOT-regulated companies require reasonable suspicion testing. 

For non-Dot companies that have a drug-free workplace program, the drug-free workplace policy can show the people who are subject to testing. Therefore, you need to refer to it to understand the employees you must monitor. 

Besides, most states usually have their set standards when it comes to reasonable suspicion training and drug-free workplace programs. Therefore, different states can need different employees to participate in reasonable suspicion testing. Your company’s testing policy should also have the employees who need to take part in testing. It can show the standards of this drug-free workplace program. 

As explained earlier, reasonable suspicion refers to the legal system, which is a legal standard of proof that is based on articulate and specific facts that you can use to deduce something about the individual in question. Simply put, there can be factual reasons to suspect a person of something. 

Drug and alcohol testing

When it comes to reasonable suspicion for a drug test, the articulate and specific facts can be the signs of drug or alcohol use, and the inference is that your staff is high or drunk. 

The crucial part here is the standard. To perform a reasonable suspicion test, you don’t even need to think that the staff can test positive for alcohol or drugs. Instead, you only need to have specific, factual, and articulate facts that you can use to infer this person may test positive. You can choose to explain them as having other causes, though this cannot change the truth that they are there. 

You should note that reasonable suspicion is an inference that a person can test positive for alcohol or drugs. This means that it’s not necessarily a probability or likelihood. Therefore, as long as there are good signs that you may articulate and document, you don’t need to do a reasonable suspicion test, though it’s required. This standard of evidence holds for either DOT or non-DOT settings.

When it comes to reasonable suspicion alcohol tests, you need to check signs of current alcohol use. Therefore, the observations can include chronic use and withdrawal symptoms. Besides, you have to observe the signs of alcohol use when your staff is doing, about to do, or just completed doing safety-sensitive tasks. 

For instance, if the staff is at your workplace but is not supposed to do safety-sensitive work on that day, then you cannot perform a DOT reasonable suspicion alcohol test. Depending on the policy for your company, you may do a non-DOT test.

You should remember that reasonable suspicion alcohol tests need to align with safety-sensitive functions because consumption of alcohol is not illegal. If your employee consumes alcohol, it’s not illegal. But consuming alcohol when your employee is working is considered to be a violation.

With reasonable suspicion drug tests, you can do a reasonable suspicion test if your employee is working. That said, you don’t have to observe your employees when they are at work. For instance, if you observe that your employee smokes a joint outside the workplace, this can be a good ground to a reasonable suspicion test.

Regardless of whether you want to have current observations or chronic use, it’s not important when it comes to drugs. This is because drugs can stay in a person’s system longer than alcohol, so there is a chance that they can still test positive even when your observations were from drug usage that was done several hours ago. 

It’s necessary to have the standard of evidence for drug testing. But there is nothing wrong with having a reasonable suspicion test that can end up with a negative outcome. The result of the test is usually beside the point. 

You should remember that your role as a supervisor is simply to observe the signs that may infer drug use. You don’t need to have a probable cause for thinking that your staff is using drugs. What you need are the signs rather than the proof. Even a single sign can be enough to warrant a test. If you have to know when you should test for reasonable suspicion, then you need to know the reasonable suspicion standard. You should always use your observations. But if the inference of these observations is drug use, you can do the test. It can sometimes be a simple inference. Maybe your staff just did something simple but unexpected, you can have reasonable suspicion for drug testing.

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BSV Staff

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