Revised Serious Marine Incident Alcohol and Drug Testing Requirements

The revised requirement for conducting alcohol and drug testing became effective June 20, 2006 and is applicable to all vessels in commercial service in the event of a Serious Marine Incident (SMI). All US flagged vessel shall be in compliance with this requirement and be prepared to do testing if there is a SMI. If a US flagged vessel has a SMI while in international or foreign waters, they are expected to comply. Foreign flagged commercial service vessels while they are in US territorial waters are required to be in compliance. US territorial waters are considered all waters that are within 12 miles out from the coast line. This means that all waters within that boundary line are considered US waters. This compliance requirement is being added to the checklist of items to be examined when a foreign flagged vessel arrives in a US port or before entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence River Seaway. Personnel to be tested are those who negligence cannot be discounted as contributing to the accident. This is a determination to be made by the marine employer. A law enforcement person may require additional vessel personnel to be tested.

Basic Requirements Alcohol Testing:

(a)  The marine employer is responsible for having the alcohol testing completed within 2 hours following a serious marine incident; if there are safety concerns to be met, then testing may be delayed until the safety concerns have been addressed. No testing is required after 8 hours for alcohol. Beverages containing alcohol, including mouthwashes, are not permitted to be used until after the alcohol testing has been completed.

(b)  Alcohol testing devices must be listed on the current Conforming Product List (CPL). The use of any device that is not listed on the CPL and published by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ( will not be acceptable. This includes devices that may be listed on lists from another source, country, region, etc..
There are two different CPLs:

  1. Evidential Breath Testing Devices (EBTs) (click here for listing)
  2. Alcohol Screen Devices (ASDs) (click here for listing)

(c) Alcohol testing devices must be used according to the procedures specified by the manufacturer. If a device is used incorrectly and not according to the procedures specified by the manufacturer, this action may result in a penalty action against the marine employer.
(d) Alcohol testing can only be conducted by personnel trained to operate the alcohol-testing device. The person using the device may have to demonstrate their qualifications to use the device upon a request from a Coast Guard Investigating Officer.
(e) The vessel should carry a sufficient number of alcohol test devices to test all personnel who could be involved in a Serious Marine Incident.

Drug Testing:

(a)  Drug testing must be completed within 32 hours following a serious marine incident;
(b)  if the drug test specimens cannot be collected within 32 hours, vessels must have onboard a sufficient number of urine-specimen collection kits and chain-of-custody forms meeting the requirements of 49 CFR Part 40 that are readily accessible for use following a serious marine incident (46 CFR Part 4, Section 4.06-20).
(c)  Urine drug test specimen collections can only be conducted by personnel trained in DOT specimen collection procedures and that are currently qualified in accordance with 49 CFR part 40 to collect these specimens.
(d)  All drug tests have to be collected in accordance with the requirements given in 49 CFR part 40.
(e)  All drug tests have to be sent to a laboratory that is accredited by the US Department of Health and Human Services for Federal Agency Workplace drug testing.
(f)  The use of on-site testing devices or other types or forms of drug testing is not allowed in accordance with US Coast Guard regulations.
(g)  Arrangements for drug test collection can be made through a port agent or another agent of the marine employer. This does not negate the 32 hour requirement but does assist in meeting the drug test requirements.


(a) If it is determined that a vessel is not in compliance, that vessel/marine employer is subject to civil penalty action.

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