Reasonable Suspicion Drug and Alcohol Testing - info-hero

Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing

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If an employee’s actions or behavior threatens their performance or workplace safety, you may decide that reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing is warranted. But you must be careful not to make a clinical diagnosis of a substance abuse problem without having concrete proof. As an HR manager or policy maker, you should make this determination based on objective criteria that is clearly articulated.

A worker’s physical appearance or behavior may suggest current intoxication or drug use due to outward signs, such as the smell of drugs or alcohol, slurred speech, or stumbling. In this case, the basis for reasonable suspicion can be formed, and you have the legal right to order immediate drug testing.

If you wish to request that an employee undergo alcohol and drug testing based on reasonable suspicion, call us at (888) 407-7650. We can arrange for testing at one of our licensed clinics, or we can deploy a technician to your workplace to conduct on-site testing.

Reasonable Suspicion Testing

When a company has reasonable suspicion of alcohol or drug use by one of their employees, a breath alcohol and urine drug test are administered. Breathalyzers can detect if a person is currently under the influence of alcohol. And, depending on the situation, the employer and job position, a five, nine or 10 panel urine test may be ordered. For safety-sensitive employees covered under DOT regulations, Health Street offers a DOT Breath Alcohol test and DOT 5 panel Urine drug test.

Types of Reasonable Suspicion Drug Tests

Breath Alcohol – A breathalyzer test can detect current intoxication within 15 minutes of drinking an alcoholic beverage, for as long as the alcohol remains in the person’s system. This may be as long as 24 hours, depending on the person’s alcohol metabolism.

5 Panel Urine – A 5 panel urine drug test detects the following commonly used drugs: marijuana, cocaine, basic opiates (codeine, morphine, and heroin), phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines such as methamphetamine. The detection window is typically 3-7 days, except for marijuana, which can be detected up to a month.

9 Panel Urine – A 9 panel drug test can screen for everything in the 5 panel test, in addition to benzodiazepines, barbiturates , methadone and propoxyphene. Benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Librium and Valium. Propoxyphene is an opioid pain reliever sold under various names like Darvon and Darvocet.

10 Panel Urine – Our 10 panel urine test is the same as the 9 panel test, except that it adds methaqualone (Quaaludes).

DOT Breath Alcohol – The Evidential Breath Test (Breathalyzer) is used for safety-sensitive employers such as commercial drivers and pilots. This type of test, when correctly administered, will never yield a false positive. It can be legally used as court evidence. Non-negative screenings are followed up by a confirmation test.

DOT 5 Panel Urine – The DOT 5 panel urine drug test complies with DOT regulations and meets their stringent requirements. Samples are sent to a SAMHSA lab and all drug test results are reviewed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO).

Health Street will consult with your organization to determine the best testing services for your reasonable suspicion situation.

Common Questions

What Are the Criteria of Reasonable Suspicion for Drug Testing Employees?

Some of the reasons why you may want to conduct reasonable suspicion testing include a decline in performance, frequent accidents, unexplained changes in personality, disorientation or confusion, excessive absenteeism, and other suspicious behavior.

What Are the Signs of Drug Use at the Workplace?

Telltale physical signs of drug use may include changes in physical appearance and a lack of proper grooming, a noticeable lack of energy, bloodshot eyes and poor skin tone, changes in appetite and poor work performance.

Detecting Substance Abuse in the Workplace

As supervisor or manager, it is important that you conduct careful observation of your employees, so that you can recognize the possible signs and symptoms of drug abuse in the workplace.

Physical Signs

Some of the physical signs that an employee may be abusing drugs include:

Rundown appearance
Poor grooming habits; wearing inappropriate or dirty clothes
Difficulty staying awake during the day; a lack of energy and always appears tired
Decreased appetite and weight loss
Psychological Signs and Behavioral Signs

There are psychological and behavioral signs that may indicate drug or alcohol abuse, such as:

Uninterested in work and social activities
Finds it difficult to complete routine tasks
Low morale and productivity
Being chronically late
A change in workplace relationships
Gets defensive when asked about substance use
Behavioral changes, such as wanting to be left alone
Problems with their financial management, such as not paying bills

To maintain a drug-free workplace, it is important for supervisors to be on the lookout for these signs of substance abuse, and to let human resources know if they suspect an employee of using drugs or alcohol on the job.

Careful observations can detect potential substance abuse among your workers. Clearly document the observations as reasons why you want to order a reasonable suspicion drug test. It is all part of protecting the health and safety of your workforce—and your customers.

Reasonable suspicion drug testing can be part of your company’s drug-free workplace program. Health Street works with employers on implementing random drug testing, reasonable suspicion testing, and other screenings that may be federally mandated for your industry.

Why to Use Health Street for Your Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing

There are many reasons to partner with Health Street for your drug testing needs, especially if you have reasonable cause to suspect an employee of drug use.

Nationwide clinics and mobile testing services, with ultra-fast deployment
Personalized customer service
Wide selection of tests available, from basic to comprehensive
DOT and non-DOT alcohol and drug testing
All non-instant tests are sent to a SAMHSA certified lab for analysis
Confirmation testing is performed for a non-negative initial screening
Results are reviewed by a medical review officer (MRO)
We’ve worked with more than 10,000 businesses
Can work with you to develop a comprehensive drug testing policy
Fast test results in our secure eResults portal

Order your reasonable suspicion testing from Health Street today!


Crane, Marisa. “How to Tell if Someone Is on Drugs: Opiates, Marijuana, and More.” American Addiction Centers, 18 March 2021,