Federally mandated employers are required to have clearly defined drug and alcohol policies. This includes anyone who operates a business regulated by a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) modal agency – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) etc. But even if your business is Non-DOT or not required under federal regulations to test for drugs and alcohol, non-mandated companies will also reap the safety and business benefits of having an alcohol and drug policy in place.

Protection & Prevention

Policies are protection and prevention for the companies as well as employees. Having a policy helps communicate expectations and consequences and helps reduce accidents and injury. It also helps identify substance abuse in the workplace and supports employers in making fitness for duty determinations.

Drug and alcohol policies have been shown to be a powerful deterrent, decreasing absenteeism, downtime, turnover, and theft in workplaces and increasing productivity and morale among employees who feel looked-after and cared for. A policy can also lower premium costs for certain kinds of insurance, such as Workers’ Compensation.

Developing Your Policy

A strong policy should include the following elements:

  1. Definitions of the terms used in the policy.

  2. An explanation of why and when testing is done and who testing will be done on.

  3. The procedures for testing.

  4. What will be tested for (specific drugs and alcohol).

  5. The reporting method and what to expect after the results come back.

  6. And then, of course, any consequences of a refusal to test or a positive test result.

Policies should also outline help lines, employee assistance programs (EAPs), procedures for self-reporting and other information on substance abuse help. The goal is to keep employees, the company, and customers safe and healthy. 

All policies should be reviewed to make sure they are fair and accurate and do not violate any state or federal laws.


Have a plan to introduce your new program to your employees, set a timeline for implementation of the program, explain how the EAP works, and inform them of the consequences.


It is important that those in your company tasked with managing and implementing your program know what they are doing so that the policy is followed in fair, equitable and appropriate ways.

We recommend that the employee who will be managing the program receive Designated Employer Representative Training and that supervisors are provided with training in the signs and symptoms of abuse. Contact our offices at to set up training.

There are also several guides on policymaking online. Federally mandated employers can check the sites for their modal agencies, at the DOT’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy Compliance website or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.