Drug Testing in the States

Do drug testing regulations vary from state to state?

Yes, drug testing regulations vary immensely from state to state! It is important to be well-versed in the laws of your state, as well as the mandates of your industry of employment. Different industries set their own guidelines and procedures for drug testing, but even these vary slightly by state. Federal laws on drug testing exist for a select few industries, with the majority of the decision on this issue falling to the individual states. How the testing is done has a great deal to do with WHY it is being done.

For example, is the drug test being done as part of a job application or as part of a rehabilitation program? Was there an accident at work? Is this drug test part of a criminal investigation? Is there reasonable suspicion that an employee was under the influence of drugs or other illegal substances while at work or on the clock? All of these questions and their answers play a role in determining how and when drug testing will occur.  

These state drug test laws also regulate factors such as the frequency of drug testing and what drugs or substances are specifically being tested for. In certain states, such as Georgia, there are guidelines for how it is handled if/when an employee refuses to comply with drug testing. (In Georgia, for example, the employee in question is subject to being immediately terminated, as well as being banned from that particular industry or company for the next two calendar years).

In many other states, there are limitations on how and when drug tests can be conducted by employers. For example, there are different rules concerning job applicants and business employees. In Connecticut, job applicants are subject to drug testing only if they have been informed of this policy – in writing – beforehand. Regular employees in Connecticut, however, are subject to random drug testing at any time or when there is reasonable suspicion.