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How to Prepare for the Workplace Alcohol Test?

Excessive consumption of alcohol and drug abuse can result in physical and mental impairment. This is the reason why many employers prefer testing their prospective employees for drugs before hiring them. While not all of them are as particular about alcohol tests as they are about drug tests, then again, some of them might consider it as a substantial reason to not hire you.

Well, career holds an important place in your lives, making clearing a job-related drug test crucial. Typically, employers do not check for alcohol, but some of them might want to make sure that their recruits come clean. In such cases, you should know whether alcohol can be detected by tests. If yes, then for how long should you avoid it? So, read along to find out whether it is okay to consume alcohol before drug test or not.

workplace alcohol test

Testing for Alcohol in the Workplace

Unless specified, the regular drug tests recommended by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) test patients for drugs including – amphetamines, THC, cocaine, opiates, and phencyclidine. However, if a company wants to rid their workplace of alcohol too, they can ask for a combined drug test too. Mostly, companies resort to breath and saliva test to make sure that their employees are not coming to work intoxicated.

Nowadays, part from the above mentioned substances, employers are looking for more advanced tests to ensure that any other kind of modern drug does not end up affecting their workspace.

Some alcohol testing programs such as those conducted by Department of Transportation (DOT) are unique because they test their employees for drugs first, followed by a separate two part test for alcohol.

To begin with, a private test is conducted for the employees, and they are shown the results there and then. In such a test, if BAC results turn out to be 0.02 or higher, they are administered under a confirmation breath control test within 15-30 minutes of screening. This is reported to the employer immediately. The results falling between 0.02 and 0.039 entail the removal of the employee from safety sensitive positions for an unspecified time period, determines by DOT administration.

However, if the BAC is 0.04 or higher, the employers must remove the employees from safety-sensitive positions with immediate effect and make them go through a DOT substance abuse program. Once they reach a safer level on the BAC scale, then only they can be placed back at safety-sensitive positions.

If you are unsure whether your company’s drug test tests for alcohol as well, you should go ahead and consult the HR or the employee handbook to be on a safer side.

Alcohol Testing

Now that you know that your employer is going to test you for alcohol during the drug test, make sure that you are not consuming alcohol for certain duration before the test. The number of hours for which alcohol is detectable through tests in human body varies. If your employer is planning to test you through hair, they can show traces of alcohol for up to 90 days. However, your blood, saliva, or any other oral fluids get rid of its traces within 12-24 hours. Urine tests can be pretty tricky to anticipate because depending upon how comprehensive the test is, the traces can be detected after 8-60 hours.

Passing an alcohol test through hair does sound impossible since the traces remain for a staggering 90 days. Then again, you can breathe a sigh of relief since most employer either resort to breath test or saliva test for detecting alcohol.


Commonly, the breath of the employees is checked with the help of Breathalyzer devices. Although, Breathalyzer is a brand name, many manufactures sell similar devices which do the same job, some rather exceptionally well than others. Well, no matter what Breathalyzer a company is using to test its employees, it should conform to the Conforming Products List of the National Highway Safety Administration and should be precise and accurate.

Only devices which ensure fair results should be used for conducting alcohol tests in workplace and other such settings for the benefit of employees as well as the employers.


Alcohol tests which involve the study of human saliva are focused on detecting the traces of ethanol, a by-product of beer, wine, and spirits in a human body. Although it can be a bit expensive to conduct saliva tests, they work miraculously well for detecting the ingestion of alcohol within the past couple of days or less. The processing of the test takes place in a lab. However, the HR can conduct sample collecting in the office also.

As for the hair, blood, and urine tests, they are forensic in nature and the legal department uses them.

How to Prepare for Alcohol Test?

To ensure that your employer is not able to detect any traces of alcohol in your body, you must make sure that you take proper precautions before appearing for it. For this, you can begin with NOT consuming alcohol before the test day!

Each body might absorb alcohol at different rates. However, it eliminates it at average rate of 0.016 BAC every hour. No matter how much coffee and water you drink, this will remain constant. Also, taking multiple showers will not have any effect either. The BAC can only be reduced by increasing the time gap between the latest you have consumed alcohol and the test day. Your body might take days to get rid of a pint of beer.

If you have a healthy functioning liver with high metabolism, you can get rid of BAC 0.24 within 15 hours of alcohol consumption, if you drink occasionally. The long-time drinkers might take more time to eliminate traces of alcohol from their body.

Apart from the drinking habits, other factor that can influence the concentration of alcohol in your body can be the food consumption. This is because food slows down the rate of absorption of alcohol in blood.