A pilot who failed a FAA random drug test will be subject to immediate action by their employer and the FAA. It may not necessarily mean the end of your flying career, and having an aviation attorney on your side can put you in the best position to return to the cockpit.
On the employer side, the medical review officer (MRO) will contact the airman and notify them of the failed random drug test. The employer is required to immediately remove the pilot from safety sensitive duties, provide a list of Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP), and report the failed test to the FAA within 2 working days. Unfortunately, the employer can also terminate the pilot’s job at this time.
The FAA will respond to the notice of a failed random drug test by sending a Letter of Investigation or Emergency Order of Revocation. The FAA will also offer their ‘Prompt Settlement Policy” as a way to ‘wrap this up quickly’.
Having an experienced aviation attorney guide you through these processes can greatly impact the future of your flying career. Don’t wait to discuss your matter with an aviation attorney. As soon as you suspect a failed random drug test, call for a consultation.
What happens when you fail a random drug test:
- Your employer must immediately remove the employee from performing his or her safety-sensitive duties
- Your employer must provide a listing of acceptable Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs)
- Your employer must report all violation within 2 working days to FAA
- A diluted positive sample will be deemed positive
- A diluted negative sample will be recollected
- As an employee, when the MRO has notified you that you have a verified positive drug test and/or refusal to test because of adulteration or substitution, you have 72 hours from the time of notification to request a test of the split specimen. If you make this request to the MRO within 72 hours, you trigger the requirements for a test of the split specimen. There is no split specimen testing for an invalid result.
- Upon receipt of your split specimen request, the MRO must direct the laboratory to forward the split specimen to a second HHS-certified laboratory
Return to Duty after a Failed Random Drug Test:
Step 1: You must meet with the SAP for a face-to-face evaluation. The SAP must recommend education and/or treatment and document the evaluation in a written report that is provided to your current or future employer.
Possible Education or Treatment recommendations:
- HIMS Program, or HIMS style treatment.
- Psychiatrist evaluation.
- Neuropsychologist testing and evaluation.
- Abstinence and monitoring programs.
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
- Inpatient treatment
- Group Therapy
- Individual Therapy
Step 2: The SAP must re-evaluate you in a follow-up face-to-face meeting to determine if you successfully completed the education and/or treatment recommendations. If the SAP is satisfied, he or she must issue a written report to your current or future employer indicating whether your education and/or treatment was or was not successful.
Step 3: Before an employer can return you to safety-sensitive work, you must take a return-to-duty test under direct observation and receive a verified negative drug test result and/or an alcohol test with an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02.
Step 4: After you return to work, you will be subject to follow-up drug and/or alcohol testing under direct observation, as directed by the SAP. Follow-up testing follows you through any breaks in service or from one employer to another.
Cancelling a drug test
There are very few scenarios in which a random drug test will be cancelled by your MRO.
- Paperwork errors that are NOT corrected by collector or MRO (examples: signatures; correct form; omission of information)
- When the laboratory discovers a “fatal flaw” during its processing of incoming specimens (see §40.83), the laboratory will report to the MRO that the specimen has been “Rejected for Testing” (with the reason stated). MRO must always cancel such a test. The following are “fatal flaws” for testing a specimen at the lab:
(1) There is no Custody CCF (Custody Control Form);
(2) There is no specimen submitted with the CCF (if collected);
(3) There is no printed collector’s name and no collector’s signature;
(4) Two separate collections are performed using one CCF;
(5) The specimen ID numbers on the specimen bottle and the CCF do not match;
(6) The specimen bottle seal is broken or shows evidence of tampering (and a split specimen cannot be re-designated,; or
(7) Because of leakage or other causes, there is an insufficient amount of urine in the primary specimen bottle for analysis and the specimens cannot be re-designated.
Don’t wait to discuss your matter with an aviation attorney. As soon as you suspect a failed random drug test, call Barnett Law Offices for a consultation with an Aviation Attorney.