drug martini

Reasonable suspicion drug testing is an important way to ensure that your employees are productive and your place of business safe, but navigating this area of drug testing can be tricky. So what are some common behaviors that may lead to a reasonable suspicion test? And how can you ensure that your reasonable suspicion case is a strong one?

Well first, let’s take a look at reasonable suspicion for the Department of Transportation and the trucking industry.

According to FMCSA, a driver may be expected to undergo a controlled substances test for reasonable suspicion, but only if suspicion is “based on specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the driver.” And these observations can’t be made by just anyone, they must be made by a supervisor or a company official who is trained for reasonable suspicion.

For non-regulated testing, things are a little bit different. For this testing, it is up to an employer to create his/her own definition of a reasonable suspicion test. That’s not to say that the Department of Labor and the state are not allowed any input, therefore be careful when creating a definition that follows all state laws. As an employer be prepared to:

Document all reasonable suspicion activity.

If you see something, write it down and include the time and date of the incident. Only current information is relevant for reasonable suspicion, without it you don’t have much of a case. And be specific when documenting the incident, don’t skimp on the details.

Make the determination regarding who and when to test.

Decide what actions should be taken if there is reasonable suspicion.

And be careful not to make these common mistakes:

  • Waiting too long to test after removing an employee from duty. If the testing isn’t done on site, do not allow the employee to drive his/her self to the collection site.
  • Having only one supervisor report reasonable suspicion. It is strongly encouraged that at least two supervisors agree that there is reasonable suspicion for a drug test. This will ensure that both you as the employer and the employee are protected.
  • Not providing supervisory personnel with enough education on reasonable suspicion. For the trucking industry, all supervisors (or anyone else in charge of drivers) must receive at least two hours of training.
  • Not creating a clear policy. Make sure your policy lays out reasonable suspicion guidelines in a clear and thorough way. Be sure that it takes into account state law.

And finally, let’s end with a few common signs that might lead reasonable suspicion testing:

  • Odor of alcohol on the body or breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady standing or walking
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Inability or difficulty completing routine tasks
  • Erratic or unusual behavior