FAA Civil Penalties for Drug Abatement Violations

  • ON Feb 26, 2021
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

FAA civil penalties for drug abatement violations can put a big dent in a small company’s pocketbook. If you are an air carrier or other certificate holder which is required to conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing for “safety sensitive” employees, the FAA can levy civil penalties for violations of regulatory, testing requirements. Specifically, companies that conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing are required to comply with the requirements of 14 C.F.R. Part 120 and 49 C.F.R. Part 40 for their drug and alcohol testing programs.

As most employers probably know, the requirements of 14 C.F.R. Part 120 and 49 C.F.R. Part 40 are extensive and voluminous. Understandably, employers find it easier to engage the services of a third-party agent to manage the drug and alcohol testing needs of its employees, rather than manage the required testing themselves. Of critical importance, however, is that even if your company employs a third-party service agent, your company is still responsible for compliance with relevant testing regulations. Specifically, 49 C.F.R. §40.15(c) states that:

“You remain responsible for compliance with all applicable requirements of this part and other DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations, even when you use a service agent. If you violate this part or other DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations because a service agent has not provided services as our rules require, a DOT agency can subject you to sanctions. Your good faith use of a service agent is not a defense in an enforcement action initiated by a DOT agency in which your alleged noncompliance with this part or a DOT agency drug and alcohol regulation may have resulted from the service agent’s conduct.”

Therefore, if your service agent drops the ball and fails to properly subject an employee to proper DOT testing, the FAA can subject your company to a hefty civil penalty. 49 U.S.C. § 46301(a)(5) specifically identifies that a company can face a civil penalty not to exceed $13,066 for each violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The FAA has a history of pursuing such claims.

If you are facing FAA civil penalties for drug abatement violations, you have options for reconsideration and appeal. The FAA defense attorneys at The Ison Law Firm have experience defending FAA drug abatement violations and are standing by to assist with your case.