Split Specimen Tests

For DOT-regulated drug and alcohol testing, split specimens are standard practice. A split specimen test proceeds much the same as any other urine test. However, the driver’s collected urine is divided into two samples. If the first tested sample reveals a positive result, the second sample can be tested to either confirm or reject the findings of the first test.

Background of Split Specimen Tests

Split specimen tests protect drivers and other employees from false positives. This testing procedure became mandatory for the transportation industry in 1991 when the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act (OTETA) was passed. OTETA’s split specimen provisions were intended to protect drivers from faulty lab equipment, lab mix-ups, and false positives triggered by the presence of legitimate medications or foods. Under the OTETA, only the employee can request testing of the second sample. The DOT, employer, or medical review officer (MRO) doesn’t have the authority to order testing of the second sample.

Benefits of Split Specimen Tests

Split specimen tests are beneficial for both employees and employers. Employees get peace of mind knowing that a lab mix-up or equipment malfunction won’t cost them their jobs and good reputation. Employers also benefit from split specimen drug and alcohol testing. They can rest assured knowing that the employee can’t provide an artificially clean sample of urine for a second test—only urine that has already been collected will be tested.

Payment for Split Specimen Tests

Once an employee has been notified by the MRO that the first sample tested positive, he or she has 72 hours to request a test of the second sample. If the employee can’t pay for the second test, the FMCSA requires the employer to pay for it so that the test can be conducted in a timely manner. Following this, the employer may seek reimbursement from the employee in accordance with any applicable collective bargaining policy or written company policy.


HDS Safety Services is a leading provider of drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive workers. Our collection sites are available around the country, with secure storage of electronic results. Call (520) 622-0419 to speak with a drug and alcohol testing expert in Tucson, AZ.