The Department of Transportation plans to amend some of its rules covering drug and alcohol testing, and training requirements for Medical Review Officers.

These changes do not go to the pending rule at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that would create a national database on drug and alcohol tests that trucking employers could access. Instead, they are being undertaken by DOT in order to bring its procedures into line with those of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The new rules add several amphetamine-type drugs to the required testing list - MDMA, MDA and MDEA. They also add a test for 6-AM, a marker for heroin use. And, the department lowered the positive threshold for tests for cocaine and amphetamines. DOT expects this change to result in a marked increase in the number of positives for cocaine use.

The Department had proposed allowing employers to choose between full service drug-testing laboratories and Instrumented Initial Test Facilities, but in the final rule said it cannot permit that approach. IITFs provide initial testing but are not used for confirmation tests, and under the law DOT-sanctioned facilities have to do both initial testing and confirmation tested.

Also, DOT is going to strengthen its standards for Medical Review Officers, requiring them to get requalified every five years. The Department said that for cost reasons it will not maintain the requirement for continuing education.

The 61-page rule will go into effect October 1. It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register today.