Random Drug and Alcohol Testing for Safety-Sensitive Employees


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Jan. 12, 2021 When Superseded 4   16  


The District government conducts random drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive employees as one way to protect the safety of District employees, residents, and visitors. This issuance describes the process used by the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR) to administer random drug and alcohol testing for employees in safety-sensitive positions.

Safety-Sensitive Employees

Safety-sensitive position means a position in which it is reasonably foreseeable that, if the employee performs the position’s routine duties while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the employee could suffer a lapse of attention or other temporary deficit that would likely cause actual, immediate, and serious bodily injury or loss of life to self or others. For this reason, employees occupying safety-sensitive positions are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. Employees in safety sensitive positions are the only District government employees subject to random drug and alcohol testing.

NOTE: Volunteers performing the duties and responsibilities of a safety sensitive position are not subject to random drug and alcohol testing unless required by federal law. This issuance does not address the process for the random testing of District government volunteers, as this may vary based on applicable federal requirements.


DCHR, in collaboration with participating agencies, administers random drug and alcohol tests at unannounced times using accepted industry practices to determine whether employees have used or are under the influence of prohibited drugs or alcohol. DCHR conducts drug tests using urinalysis to detect amphetamines, cocaine, extended opiates, marijuana, MDP-analogues, opiates, oxycodone, and phencyclidine (PCP). Alcohol tests are conducted using an evidential breath testing device (EBT), commonly known as a “breathalyzer.”

Each year, DCHR randomly selects and tests at least 50% of the District government’s safety sensitive employee population for drugs and 10% of the same population for alcohol. On a monthly basis, DCHR obtains a list of all positions that are safety sensitive across agencies from the District’s HR system. DCHR then sends this list to an independent vendor for randomization. The vendor randomizes the pool according to accepted industry practices, identifies the individuals to be tested, and provides this information to DCHR.  

Agency Notification

DCHR groups selected employees by agency and sends those agencies notification forms for each employee who is selected for random drug or alcohol testing. (See Attachment 1: Individual Notification for Selection for Random Drug And/Or Alcohol Testing.) Each agency is then responsible for notifying the selected safety sensitive employees of their requirement to undergo drug or alcohol testing using the form provided by DCHR. Employees must report for testing within one hour of receiving the notification.

Depending on the location of the agency and the number of safety sensitive employees who require testing, the agency determines whether DCHR will implement drug testing on-site at the agency, or at a designated off-site testing location. When an agency determines that an employee will be tested off-site location, the agency arranges the employees’ transportation to the off-site location.

Employee Notification and Testing

When an employee receives a random drug or alcohol testing selection notice, the employee must acknowledge the notification in writing and report for testing within one hour. An employee who does not submit to or who does not otherwise cooperate with a drug or alcohol test may be deemed unsuitable, and subject to appropriate administrative action, up to and including termination. Employees are in a paid duty status while undergoing any drug or alcohol testing procedure.

Positive Test Results

If a safety sensitive employee has a positive drug or alcohol test result, DCHR notifies the agency. The agency then notifies the employee that the employee may be subject to administrative action, which may include separation from District government service. An employee who produces a positive drug test result may authorize to have the stored sample sent to another U.S. Department of Health and Human Services- (HHS) certified laboratory of their choice for a confirmation test. This confirmation test is at the employee’s expense and uses the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) methodology.  For more information regarding positive results, please refer to Chapters 4 and 16 of the District Personnel Manual.

Positive Tests for Marijuana

Safety sensitive employees who randomly test positive for marijuana only when there is no evidence of impairment may be subject to lesser penalties, the default being a five-day suspension, for their first offense. For a second positive drug test for marijuana within three years, employees are subject to removal.

Additional Information

For additional information concerning this instruction, please contact the D.C. Department of Human Resources, Policy and Compliance Administration, by calling (202) 442-9700 or by sending an e-mail to dchr.policy@dc.gov.


Title 6-B of the D.C. Municipal Regulations §§ 410, 414, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 431, 499, and 1605-1607.


  1. Individual Notification of Selection for Random Drug And/Or Alcohol Testing

Issued by Director Ventris C. Gibson, D.C. Department of Human Resources on Jan. 14, 2021, midnight