DOT ALCOHOL TESTING: Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) vs. Screening Test Technician (STT)
In the highly-regulated world of Department of Transportation (DOT) alcohol and drug testing, following the DOT’s Part 40 Rules regarding training remains a crucial piece to a successful and compliant testing program.
At Certified Training Solutions, we often receive calls from potential customers that are interested in starting a drug and alcohol testing business. A common question we are asked is, “Should I get trained as a BAT or STT?”
In most cases, we recommend breath alcohol technician (BAT) training right off the bat (pun intended). It is important to understand that BATs are qualified to perform both screening and confirmation tests; whereas, screening test technicians (STTs) are legally qualified to conduct screening tests only.
So why would a person even want to consider getting trained as a screening test technician (STT)?
The answer to this question usually comes down to cost. Screening devices are much less expensive than fully-approved evidential breath testing (EBT) devices, and screening test technician training is typically less costly than full BAT training. Screening test technicians are trained and qualified to perform screening tests only, and they must use a NHTSA-approved alcohol screening device (ASD) for conducting DOT/Federal alcohol tests.
Alcohol screening devices (ASDs) may be either saliva or breath devices, and the device used must be listed on the NHTSA Conforming Products List (CPL).
You may find the approved list of alcohol screening devices at: https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/approved-alcohol-screening-devices
Note: Only saliva and breath samples are approved for Federal alcohol testing under the Department of Transportation Rules. Blood, urine, hair, and other fluids or samples are NOT allowed by the DOT Part 40 Rules.
It is important to recognize that in the Federal (DOT) testing program, any employee having a result on their screening test of 0.02% or greater (BAC) must submit to a confirmation test after a 15-minute wait (but no longer than 30 minutes from the time of the screening test). Therefore, if your company/facility, or your testing center has only trained STTs on staff (no BATs with an EBT), you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle when it comes to ensuring that the required confirmation test is conducted within the allotted time period. (Note: Failure to ensure that the employee receives their confirmation test in the required time period may result in hefty penalties for the employer from the Federal Government.)
The situation may go like this: Your facility/company employs trained STTs and you use a saliva screening device such as the Alco-screen 02. The STT conducts a DOT alcohol screening test on Joe Blow, and Joe’s result is over 0.02%. You and/or the employer has no more than 30 minutes from exact time of the screening test to get Joe Blow to a Trained Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) with an evidential breath testing device that prints (to perform his confirmation test).
What if you either do not want to send your client’s business to a competitor, or perhaps you do not know of a facility near you that can perform the confirmation test within the allotted timeframe? And what if the employer says, “Well heck, if I’ve got to send my employees somewhere else for their confirmation test, why don’t I just use that other facility/clinic for my initial testing to begin with?!” Clearly, you can see that it is not only inconvenient to make the employee jump from one testing facility to another in such a short period of time, it may also increase your liability. Should you direct the employee who just tested “positive” to drive himself to the confirmation testing site? Of course not! Should YOU drive him to the confirmation testing site? I do not know about you, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to get into a car with a potentially-intoxicated person that I don’t know (and who is also now probably angry or upset that he may lose his job… think safety).
However, screening devices definitely have a place in the DOT testing world. Due to the low cost of ASDs and their ease-of-use, they are an excellent alternative testing method in situations where it may not be practical to purchase multiple EBTs.
Example: Let’s say you are a company with multiple locations and/or field employees at various locations. It is perhaps more practical and cost-effective to arm your site supervisors with ASDs (and provide them with STT training) versus purchasing an EBT for each of them. Then, in the occasional case of a “positive” alcohol screening test, the supervisor can transport the employee to the main office or another testing facility where there is a trained BAT with an EBT to conduct the confirmation test. Since saliva ASDs (such as the Alco-screen 02) cost only $2.00 per test, and fully-approved EBTs typically cost between $1,200 and $4,000 each, you can imagine the cost savings in this type of scenario. Just be sure you have a system in place for confirmation testing, when the need arises.
Why BAT training is the choice for most
If you choose to be trained as a BAT, you will be able to legally perform both alcohol screening and confirmation tests. You will not have to worry about finding a second technician if the screening test is positive. YOU will be able to conduct the full testing process… no need to transport the employee to another facility or location and no worries about exceeding the DOT’s strict 30-minute time period.
Of course, you must invest in an evidential breath tester (EBT) if you plan to conduct your own full testing. The EBT you choose or use must be listed on the NHTSA Conforming Products List (CPL) of Evidential Breath Testing Devices.
You may find the list of EBTs and more information here:
Certified Training Solutions offers a variety of affordable, fully-approved breath testing devices. (The author’s favorite is the Alcovisor Jupiter. You may see details about the Jupiter EBT here.)
What must I do to become certified as a BAT or STT?
Whether you choose to become trained as a breath alcohol technician or a screening test technician, you must follow and successfully complete the two-part training, as prescribed in the DOT’s 49 CFR Part 40 Rules. The training must also follow the DOT Model Course Requirements. Be sure to use a reputable trainer as your own training provider to ensure compliance.
Whether you choose STT or BAT training, your training will need to consist of two components – (1) The procedures training, and (2) the device proficiency training. We offer Component One (the procedures training) by way of our easy-to-use, self-paced online course for either BATs or STTs. However, the DOT requires that Component Two be conducted in a way that allows for real-time interaction between the instructor and the student; therefore, it cannot be completed in a “self-study” manner. You and your qualified instructor must be able to see and hear each other in real-time for the hands-on component of your BAT or STT training. This means either live (face-to-face) or real-time webcam training.
Certified Training Solutio
ns offers comprehensive, affordable online BAT and STT procedures training courses. You may learn about our BAT training by clicking here, and Our STT training by clicking here.
BAT and STT training is also what we call “device specific”, meaning you must be trained on the specific testing device that you will use in the real world. There is no one-size-fits-all BAT or STT training/certification. As a BAT, you will need to find a qualified Trainer on the specific make and model of your EBT. Likewise, STTs must be trained by a qualified trainer on their specific ASD. We have instructors available that are highly-trained and qualified on most popular EBTs and ASDs. Please contact us to inquire.
If you are new in the field of offering drug and alcohol testing services, you may be interested in our online course, “How To Start A Drug and Alcohol Testing Business”. This inexpensive online course will teach you everything you need to know about getting into drug and alcohol testing including: training requirements, selecting supplies and instruments, marketing, and the course even includes a FREE sample service agreement for drug and alcohol testing businesses. This online course will also provide you with a more in-depth examination of whether you should choose to become trained as a BAT or STT.
You may reach us by email at: Admin@CertifiedTrainingSolutions.com
Or by telephone at: 307-640-5859 or 213-308-7630
The information presented here is meant to provide general information and guidance. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Legal advice must be provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship specifically with reference to all the facts of the particular situation under consideration. Such is not the case here, and accordingly, the information presented here must not be relied on as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel. When in doubt, check with your corporate legal counsel and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel or an agent of the operating agency that covers your industry. Certified Training Solutions is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage relating to the use of the information in this article. Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.