5.1.7 Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing

Policy Section: Conditions of Employment

Policy Number and Title: 5.1.7 Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing
Applicable to: Employees Required to Hold a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
Effective Date: July 1, 2012

Policy Description

Princeton University does not test employees for alcohol use or substance abuse except as required by federal, state or local law. In compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), "Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing Regulations," the University conducts tests for alcohol and controlled substances on covered employees in safety-sensitive transportation-related positions as prescribed by law.

Application of this Policy

Fundamental to Princeton's application of the laws regarding alcohol and drug testing is the commitment to respect the privacy and reasonable concerns of employees who are required to be tested for alcohol and drug use. The University takes extensive measures to ensure that all records, documents and related materials concerning who has been tested, why they were tested and the results of those tests are held in strictest confidence, and that all meetings and conversations relating to alcohol and drug testing are treated as confidential. Any employee who breaches confidentiality is subject to formal disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Covered Employees
Alcohol and controlled substances testing is conducted for all employees who are required to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) as a condition of employment. Individuals must have a CDL to operate in both interstate or intrastate commerce. A CDL is required for every employee who:
  • drives a vehicle that has a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more; or
  • transports hazardous materials in an amount that requires placarding; or
  • drives a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, on public roads.
These positions are defined by federal regulations as "safety-sensitive," which, at the University, include but are not limited to bus drivers, security officers, movers and sanitation equipment operators. The law applies to new and current employees, as well as current employees applying to transfer to a safety-sensitive position.
Students, staff or faculty hired on a temporary basis to serve in safety-sensitive positions are also subject to these federal requirements.
Testing Conditions
Princeton University's alcohol and drug testing program is administered by University Health Services at McCosh Health Center by trained and certified health care professionals who follow quality assurance procedures and strict confidentiality requirements. All alcohol and drug testing is normally conducted at McCosh Health Center.
DOT regulations require testing for alcohol and the following controlled substances: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and phencyclidine. Employees are required to participate in alcohol and/or drug testing, including but not limited to, urine and breath screens as follows:
  • Post-accident: 1) for all fatal accidents, even if the driver is not cited for a moving traffic violation; or 2) after accidents by drivers who receive a citation for a moving traffic violation; or 3) if as a result of the accident a person requires medical treatment away from the accident scene; or 4) if one or more vehicles require towing from the scene of the accident.
  • Random: random unannounced basis just before, during or just after performance of safety-sensitive functions.
  • Reasonable suspicion: when a trained supervisor or University official observes behavior or appearance that is characteristic of alcohol and/or substance misuse.
  • Return-to-duty and follow-up: when an individual who has violated the alcohol and/or controlled substances standards returns to safety-sensitive duties.
The University regards positive alcohol and/or drug tests and refusal to take a test as serious offenses and will take appropriate disciplinary action. Discipline is determined on a case-by-case basis and may range from suspension without pay to termination of employment. Any employee who refuses to be tested more than once during the course of his or her employment may be terminated. Employees who test positive for alcohol or controlled substances more than once within a five-year period will be terminated from employment at the University, unless there are compelling extenuating circumstances.
Record retention
Records of the alcohol and substance use prevention program are maintained as confidential files by the Office of Employee Health with restricted access. As required by law, the records are retained as follows.
  • Records of any negative test results are retained for one year.
  • Records related to the test collection process and training are maintained for two years.
  • Records of any employee alcohol test results indicating an alcohol concentration level of 0.02 or greater; documentation of refusals to take required alcohol or controlled substance tests; verified controlled substance test results; equipment calibration documentation; and documentation of employee evaluations and referrals are maintained for five years.
All records of verified positive test results are forwarded to the Office of Human Resources and are maintained as confidential files with only authorized individuals who have a "need-to-know" having access to them. The results of a positive drug test of a University employee may not be disclosed unless the disclosure is:
  • to the medical review officer;
  • to the health care professionals from whom the employee is receiving counseling or treatment;
  • to any supervisory or management official within the University having authority to take action against such employee; or
  • in response to a federal, state or local court order.
By law, the University must be prepared to submit a report summarizing the results of the program as requested by federal agencies. In addition, test results with all identifying information removed may also be made available to authorized University personnel for data collection and other activities necessary to comply with the law.
Employee Access to Records
Any employee who is the subject of a drug test may, upon written request to the Office of Employee Health, have access to any records relating to:
  • the employee's drug test; and
  • the results of any relevant certification, review or revocation-of-certification proceedings.
Training and Referral
Information for Employees
Educational materials that explain the requirements of the law and University policies and procedures with respect to meeting the federal requirements as well as written notice of their availability are provided to each covered employee and union representatives of covered employees.
Training for Supervisors
Individuals who have responsibility for determining whether reasonable suspicion exists to request tests for alcohol and/or controlled substances are required to receive training on the physical, behavioral, speech and performance indicators of probable use of controlled substances and alcohol. 
Referral, Evaluation and Treatment
An opportunity for treatment must be made available to covered employees; however, the University is not required to provide or pay for rehabilitation or to hold a job open for an employee with or without salary.
Covered employees who have engaged in prohibited conduct must be advised of the available resources for evaluation and treatment of problems related to alcohol and/or controlled substances.
Employees in rehabilitation are allowed up to one hour (or more as necessitated by travel time) of excused absence time for each counseling session, up to a maximum of six, during the assessment and referral phase of rehabilitation. All absences during work hours for rehabilitation or treatment must be charged, with supervisor approval, to vacation, sick days, personal days, etc. in accordance with University policy.


Office of Human Resources
(609) 258-3300
Office of Employee Health
(609) 258-5035
Office of the General Counsel
(609) 258-2500

Last revised May 3, 2004.