Lab-based urine drug testing has been in common use for more than 30 years and is the only testing method currently permitted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). All 50 states permit lab-based urine testing and some states require it in certain industries.

Urine samples can be tested for virtually any drug and professional services are competitive compared to other testing methods. The window of detection is generally 3-4 days, though drugs are not immediately detectable after usage.

The urine collection process has some challenges. Observed collections, which are required in some situations, require matching the gender of the collector and the donor which is not always possible on short notice. Also, urine testing is subject to a variety of cheating methods, including substitute urine samples, false body parts to use to fake urination, and various additives that can be used to mask the presence of drugs in a sample. As such, myriad precautions must be taken at collection sites to ensure the integrity of the sample such as turning off hot water in the restrooms, putting blue dye in the toilet water, and inspecting samples for additives and proper temperature.

An alternative to lab-based urine testing is point-of-collection (POCT) urine testing, which produces an immediate yes or no result. POCT testing is not permitted by DOT and some states either restrict or prohibit its use for workplace testing.

Urine testing aligns particularly well with random, follow-up and return-to-duty testing. It is also good for pre-employment testing in states that have not legalized marijuana.

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