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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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Does alcohol show up on a pre employment drug test?

Resolved Question:

During a pre employment drug screen (urine) is alcohol one of the things they test for? I heard somewhere that according to the ADA act of 1990 they cannot test for alcohol. My new job does not have anything to do with transportation or aircraft. I was just wondering if they could possibly pick up alcohol in urine 15 hours after drinking. A lot of wine - to celebrate. Thanks in advance.

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 5 years ago.

The usual testing done for employment does not include testing for alcohol. The ADA does not prevent employers from testing for alcohol, but they do not because of practical considerations. The most commonly used urine test for alcohol actually looks for a metabolite of alcohol, ethyl glucuronide (EtG). The test for EtG is very sensitive and can detect alcohol use up to 80 hours after use. However, since employers cannot require persons to abstain from alcohol for days prior to work, employers do not typically perform this test. Also, there are many substances that contain trivial amounts of alcohol, but will still cause a positive test for EtG, which makes it impractical for screening in an employment situation. Therefore, the EtG is used in situations in which no alcohol can be used for several days before testing, which is not applicable in pre-employment situations.

Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18438
Experience: Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
Dr. D. Love and 2 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

So how long does it take for you to get back results from a drug screen typically?

What if they took blood? Would I have to sign a form that allowed them to have it tested or could they take and have it tested without my knowledge? Again this is all to check for alcohol in the bloodstream.

Expert:  Family Physician replied 5 years ago.

There are indeed significant differences between tests for illegal drugs (and the illegal use of prescription drugs) and alcohol testing under the ADA.
Generally an employer CANNOT perform alcohol tests which are considered "medical tests" under the ADA. There are certain employers who are required to perform drug AND alcohol tests (DOT regulated employers such as trucking companies).
Here are several references from the EEOC on the issue of alcohol tests
Here is a reference to EEOC action taken against a large employer in regards to random alcohol testing