DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences
captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

The Penalties

Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure of captain and crew to enroll in a drug and alcohol program can result in a fine of up to $7,250 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program. 

Owners and operators of illegal charter vessels can face maximum civil penalties for illegal passenger-for-hire operations.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

Who Must Be Covered

It’s not only the captain who must be enrolled in a random drug testing program.

Your first mate, even if it’s your child, and anyone who helps you with boarding or would assist in an emergency, must be covered.

Deckhands and crew, even though they do not hold a captain’s license, must be in a random program.

The penalty is up to $5,000 per day per violation, and possible action against your license and your vessel.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

How to Be In Compliance

As a captain, one way you can ensure you are in compliance is to belong to a drug testing consortium if your company does not manage it’s own testing program.

I belong to the American Professional Captain’s Association based in Saint Petersburg, Florida, APCA.

They host a random DOT program for Merchant Mariners. They offer pre-employment, periodic, post accident, reasonable suspicion, and random testing.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

What’s Involved

I pay an annual fee of $80 to APCA to manage my drug testing program. New applicants pay $90 to enroll.

To join APCA’s compliance program you will submit a pre-employment drug test, or have had one in the last six months.

APCA uses Quest Diagnostics for testing. Then, you may be asked to report for a drug test right away, nearly never, or in quick succession.

That’s the random part – I went 20 years with no order to appear for random tests, then, several in a row.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

Details of Random Testing

For the third time in less than two years, my number has “come up.” That means I’ve gotten notification of requirement to complete a “Urine DOT” diagnostic collection.

I received an email on January 11, and had until January 21 to comply – which means present myself at a lab and provide a sample.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

Sampling Procedures

At my local Quest lab, today I checked in at a self-led kiosk. When it was my turn, I received a text. My name was called, and I was moved to a room. The lab technician closed the door, took my ID and order confirmation I printed from the APCA email.

She entered information into her computer then took me to the lab section. I put my belongings into a locked safe.

The lab tech went over the rules – wash your hands now. Then, urinate into a cup and bring it out without flushing the toilet or running any water.

She tossed a tablet into the toilet to make the water turn blue, removed the trashcan, and left the bathroom.

I had four minutes to present my sample. Yes, I drank a big coffee in advance to make sure I was prepared to produce.

Next she decanted my sample into two vials, placed labels upon them, which I initialed.

My ID was returned, I was given a confirmation paper, and left in under 20 minutes.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

Other Procedures

Sampling locations vary widely and wildly.

I have provided samples at labs where you are observed in person; someone is in the bathroom with you.

Also, I have experienced labs where the lab tech has control of the water supply for the toilet and the sink so you don’t accidentally run either one.

One lab I’ve been to twice has a small window where they observe you provide your sample.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

My Technique

Quite purposely, I wear slightly form-fitting clothes so the lab tech does not have to worry that I am concealing anything.

I do take care to dress nicely; I wear a clean and tidy outfit.

Once I hand over the sample, I keep my eye on it until I have initialed the labels. Also, I watch to see if a tech is processing several at a time, or one at a time. I would not hesitate to speak up if I thought my sample might get mixed up.

When I arrive, I have with me a small zipper bag that has a wrist strap. It can hold my keys, cell phone, and id, and it leaves my hands free to sign or sanitize. Sometimes the safe provided is very small and will not accommodate a large purse.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

What’s the 5-Panel Test

The DOT 5 panel tests or “5 Panel DOT Screen” tests for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP).

The expanded test required as of January 2018 includes a breakdown of amphetamines into Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, MDA, and MDEA.

Additionally, opiates are broken down into Codeine, Morphine, 6-AM (Heroin), Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone, and Oxycodone.

The expanded test is still called the 5-Panel DOT test, and is the only drug screen the Coast Guard will acknowledge.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

What’s Not Covered

Not covered under the APCA’s random drug testing program fees is a post-accident test.

Since this service is not part of the random testing program, there are additional costs involved.

After a serious marine accident, once everyone is safely back on land, within two hours of the incident, an alcohol screen for all “safety sensitive employees” on the vessel must be conducted, then a DOT drug screen within 32 hours.

Reasonable Suspicion testing also incurs additional fees since it’s not part of the random testing program.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

CFR – Code of Federal Regulations

46CFR 16.230 Random testing requirements – part a) says marine employers shall establish chemical testing on a random basis for captain, patrolmen, watchmen, and crewmembers on inspected vessels, including anyone assisting or controlling movement of passengers during emergencies.

For uninspected vessels, captain and crewmembers, patrolment, watchmen, and anyone assisting and controlling movement of passengers in emergencies is required to enroll.

You can read more here: 46 CFR § 16.230 – Random testing requirements.

49 CFR 40 outlines the procedures for transportation workplace drug and alcohol testing programs.

This covers everything from how the urine is to be collected, to release of information.

You can read more here: 49 CFR Part 40 – PROCEDURES FOR TRANSPORTATION WORKPLACE DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING PROGRAMS.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

More Questions

If you have any more questions, you can contact APCA at [email protected] or if you have an experience to relate or comments, please add them below.

captains license drug testing, DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Program Requirement for Boat Captain and Crew // CFR’s // My Experiences

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