Drug Alcohol Testing Definition

Drug and alcohol testing is an area of the law most often dealing with driving or employment issues. There are "implied consent" statutes in a majority of states which imply a driver's consent to be tested for drug or alcohol intoxication through the use of public roads and highways. Failure to comply with such testing may result in an automatic suspension of a driver's license.

Drug and alcohol testing is also used in the workplace for safety and other reasons. It may be required as a condition of employment, or conducted randomly among existing employees. Drug testing in the private sector is less constrained than it is among government employers who must comply with the search and seizure provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, there is no such constraint applying to private employers not acting as an instrument or agent of the government. Accordingly, there is no federal restriction on a properly posted drug testing policy for employees. Several state constitutions, though, guarantee privacy rights and a number of states have enacted specific legislation dealing with drug testing policies. Many of the state constitutional provisions have been held to be limited to government action, and therefore apply only to government employers. However, in a number of the states which have legislated in this area, specific procedures have been established to protect the rights of employees and job applicants. Challenges to employee discharges as the results of such testing have involved issues of disability discrimination, but are often upheld if a valid corporate purpose for the discharge can be presented.

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