Policy Number: 11-017

Marine Operator Drug and Alcohol Testing

Category: Human Resources

Responsible Executive: Vice President for Human Resources

Responsible Office: Human Resources

1. Policy Statement

This policy affirms the University of Florida’s commitment to providing an environment free of the abuse of alcohol and the illegal use of drugs and alcohol in accordance with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, and, specifically, its compliance with the drug and alcohol testing provisions of U.S. Coast Guard’s Drug and Alcohol Testing program as set forth in Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 4, 5 and 16, 33 CFR 95, and 49 CFR Part 40. 

2. Applicability

The rule applies to all commercial service vessels owned by the University of Florida required to be operated by a US Coast Guard issued licensed individual, onboard any US flagged inspected and uninspected vessel on any route, commercial fishing vessels 200 GT or greater, and towing vessels 26 feet in length or longer. All crewmembers responsible for the safe operation and navigation of the vessel or those responsible for the safe handling of passengers in the event of an emergency must be tested. This includes not limited to full-time, regularly, casual and intermittent or occasional individuals who meet the definition of crewmember. 

3. Definitions

Chemical test means a scientifically recognized test which analyzes an individual’s breath, blood, urine, saliva, bodily fluids, or tissues for evidence of dangerous drug or alcohol use.

Collection Site: A place designated by the employer where individuals present themselves for the purpose of providing a specimen of their urine to be analyzed for the presence of drugs. Not to be confused with laboratory.

Crewmember: An individual who is either;

  1. Onboard a vessel acting under the authority of a credential issued under this subchapter, whether or not the individual is a member of the vessel’s crew; or
  2. Engaged or employed onboard a vessel owned in the United States that is required by law or regulation to engage, employ, or be operated by an individual holding a credential issued under this subchapter, except for the following:
    1. Individuals on fish processing vessels who are primarily employed in the preparation of fish or fish products, or in a support position, and who have no duties that directly affect the safe operation of the vessel;
    2. Scientific personnel on an oceanographic research vessel;
    3. Individuals on industrial vessels who are industrial personnel, as defined in this chapter; and
    4. Individuals not required under part 15 of this subchapter who have no duties that directly affect the safe operation of the vessel.

Dangerous Drug: A narcotic drug, a controlled substance, or a controlled-substance analog (as defined in section 102 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act of 1970 — Title 21 United States Code Section 802). For testing purposes, this manual will primarily be concerned with:

  1. Amphetamines (speed)
  2. Cocaine
  3. Opiates (morphine, codeine, and heroin)
  4. Marijuana
  5. Phencyclidine (PCP or angel dust) 5

Employer: Is a marine employer or sponsoring organization. As an example, a sponsoring organization may be a union that represents employees. Marine employer will operate vessels for hire and/or have personnel that perform safety-sensitive duties.

Operation: Means to: navigate, steer, direct, manage, or sail a vessel, or to control, monitor, or maintain the vessel’s main or auxiliary equipment or systems. Operation includes:

  1. Determining the vessel’s position, piloting, directing the vessel along a desired trackline, keeping account of the vessel’s progress through the water, ordering or executing changes in course, rudder position, or speed, and maintaining a lookout;
  2. Controlling, operating, monitoring, maintaining, or testing: the vessel’s propulsion and steering systems; electric power generators; bilge, ballast, fire, and cargo pumps; deck machinery including winches, windlasses, and lifting equipment; lifesaving equipment and appliances; firefighting systems and equipment; and navigation and communication equipment; and
  3. Mooring, anchoring, and line handling; loading or discharging of cargo or fuel; assembling or disassembling of tows; and maintaining the vessel’s stability and watertight integrity.

Pre-employment Testing Requirements: A crewmember must pass a drug test before an employer may employ him/her. A prospective crewmember who submits a urine sample cannot be employed until a negative test result is confirmed.

Periodic Testing Requirements:  Periodic tests are the responsibility of the individual mariner, not the marine employer, for transactions involving licenses, CORs, or MMDs. Drug test results must be submitted to the Coast Guard Regional Exam Center at the time of the license, COR, or MMD transaction.

Random Testing Requirements: An employer must conduct random drug testing of certain crewmembers at an annual rate of not less than 50%.

Reasonable Causing Testing Requirements: An employer shall require any crewmember who is reasonably suspected of using drugs to be tested for drugs and/or alcohol. An individual is under the influence of alcohol or a dangerous drug when: a)The individual is operating a vessel other than a recreational vessel and has an alcohol concentration of .04 percent by weight or more in their blood; or, b) The individual is operating any vessel and the effect of the intoxicant(s) consumed by the individual on the person’s manner, disposition, speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior is apparent by observation.  {Reference: 33 CFR 95.03)}.

Refusal or Refuses to Submit: Happens when a crewmember fails to provide a urine sample as required by 49 CFR Part 40, without a genuine inability to provide a specimen (as determined by a medical evaluation), after he or she has received notice of the requirement to be tested in accordance with the provisions of this part, or engages in conduct that clearly obstructs the testing process, such as substitution, intentional dilution, or adulteration of a sample.

Safety Sensitive Duties: Include but are not limited to;

  1. Directing and mustering passengers in emergencies
  2. Passing out lifejackets
  3. Controlling and operating lifesaving equipment
  4. Controlling and operating firefighting equipment

Safety Sensitive Position: Is any position (billet) aboard a vessel, that requires the person filling that position to perform one or more safety sensitive duties or operation of a vessel on either a routine or emergency only basis. Examples of this type of crewmember may include card dealers, bartenders, game operators and service personnel aboard excursion or gaming vessels. Any person filling a safety sensitive position is subject to U.S. Coast Guard drug and alcohol testing. All crewmembers, that are responsible for the safe handling of passengers, are considered to be filling safety sensitive positions as well.

Serious Marine Incident: Is any reportable marine casualty as defined in 46 CFR 4.03-1 and 46 CFR 4.05-1, involving a vessel in commercial service, which results in any of the following:

  1. One or more fatalities.
  2. An injury to a crewmember, passenger, or other person which requires professional medical treatment beyond first aid and, in the case of a person employed on board a vessel in commercial service, which renders the individual unfit to perform routine vessel duties.
  3. Damage to property, as defined in 46 CFR 4.05-1, in excess of $100,000
  4. The actual or constructive total loss of any vessel subject to Coast Guard Inspection
  5. The actual or constructive total loss of any self-propelled vessel, not subject to inspection by the Coast Guard, of 100 gross tons or more
  6. A discharge of oil of 10,000 gallons or more, into a navigable waterway.
  7. A release of a hazardous substance equal to or greater than its reportable quantity into the navigable waters of the United States, or into the environment of the United States, whether or not the release resulted from a marine casualty.

The regulation requires that all alcohol tests be conducted within two hours of the incident and that drug tests be collected within 32 hours of the incident.  Failure to comply with the two-hour alcohol testing requirement may lead to further action.

Stand-down means the practice of temporarily removing a crewmember from the performance of safety-sensitive functions based only on a report from a laboratory to the MRO of a confirmed positive test for a drug or drug metabolite, an adulterated test, or a substituted test, before the MRO has completed verification of the test result. 

4. Policy Specifics

This policy is to provide a means to deter the illegal use of controlled substances by the University of Florida’s merchant marine personnel and to promote a drug-free and safe work environment for the safe passage of embarked passengers and for carriage of cargo on U.S. waterways. Enforcement of these regulations by the U.S. Coast Guard is necessary to ensure that marine employers have taken the necessary steps to have a safe and drug-free working environment by conducting testing when required and in the manner described in the regulation.
As established in Federal Regulations and as set forth in the DOT/Coast Guard regulations, all USCG licensed mariners who must operate or be available to operate a vessel to perform the duties of their jobs are considered to be performing safety-sensitive duties.  Prior to and as a condition of employment in Coast Guard identified safety-sensitive positions, applicants are required by law and University policy to submit to federally mandated drug testing.  Once employed, individuals in safety-sensitive positions are required to submit to on-going drug and alcohol testing as a condition of continued employment.  In addition, as of January 1, 2014, all negative dilute drug testing results for either pre-employment or random testing will be recollected as a condition of hire and continued employment.
Under this policy, individuals in safety-sensitive positions who tests positive during a drug or alcohol test, performed in accordance with the provisions of federal law, shall no longer be eligible to perform Marine Operator duties for the University.
Tracking the university’s Marine Operators presents a unique challenge. Therefore, departments are responsible for ensuring that individuals who meet the criteria as listed in this policy are registered with UF – Human Resources, specifically the Employee Relations Department, Marine Operator Program Coordinator.


The following are the various types of testing which may be required:

  • Pre-employment Testing
  • Periodic Testing
  • Random Testing
  • Serious Marine Incident Testing
  • Reasonable Cause Testing

4.1 Hiring Steps

Basic hiring steps that must be taken and cleared for a department to hire an applicant: 

  1. The department identifies safety-sensitive positions and notifies the Marine Operator Program Coordinator.
  2. An applicant must have the required license and required endorsement listed in the Position Description to be considered for a safety-sensitive position.
  3. The applicant must undergo drug training including a Pre-Employment Drug Test. An applicant will be able to move to the next step once the Marine Operator Program Coordinator receives a negative pre-employment drug testing result.
  4. The Marine Operator Program Coordinator will request drug and alcohol testing information of the applicant from all previous DOT and Coast Guard employers in accordance with DOT Regulation 49 CFR Part 40, Section 40.25.
  5. All applicants will be cleared for hire after the Marine Operator Program Coordinator has signed off on Steps 1-4.

4.2 Required Language for Position Descriptions

The position description for an operator where a Marine license is required must include the following required language:

This position is covered by the 46 Code of Federal Regulations, part 16 and 49 CFR Part 40 requiring marine employers be subject to Coast Guard Drug Testing.  Individuals applying for this position or incumbents of this position are required to hold a , necessary to operate a foot vessel, as a condition of employment.  Valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) issued by the Transportation Security Administration under 49 CFR part 1572.  The act requires that all such individuals be subject to pre-employment and continuing post-employment drug testing.  Failure to comply with such testing is grounds for dismissal from employment with the University.

The position description for all other crewmembers responsible for the safe operation and navigation of the vessel or those responsible for the safe handling of passengers in the event of an emergency must include the following language:

The act requires that all such individuals be subject to pre-employment and continuing post-employment drug testing.  Failure to comply with such testing is grounds for dismissal from employment with the University. 

4.3 Marine Operator Safe-Driver Requirements

The University of Florida has a legal obligation to ensure that UF Marine Operators, have the mental and physical ability to perform their safety-sensitive duties. The university is further legally bound to ensure that its Marine Operators are not impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs. Beyond that however, but equally as important, the university has a fiduciary responsibility to its students, faculty, staff, guests and other parties to ensure that the conduct of a Marine Operator, whether on and off the job, raises no issues of confidence or concern regarding that individual’s good judgement and ability to perform the safety-sensitive functions of his or her job.

UF’s Marine Operator Program is responsible not only for drug and alcohol testing, but for all issues involving the licensure, health and behavior of individuals employed as a Marine Operator. That means that the Marine Operator Program Coordinator must ensure compliance with Federal and State laws and the University of Florida’s Marine Operator Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy and Drug-Free Workplace Statement.

If an individual holding a license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariner’s document fails a chemical test for dangerous drugs, the individual’s employer, prospective employer, or sponsoring organization must report the test results in writing to the nearest Coast Guard Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI). The individual must be denied employment as a crewmember or must be removed from duties which directly affect the safe operation of the vessel as soon as practicable and is subject to suspension and revocation proceedings against his or her license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariner’s document under 46 CFR part 5 .

Examples of Marine Operator Misconduct which may include but not be limited to: 

  • Testing positive on a UF Marine operator drug or alcohol test.
  • Reporting to duty or remaining on duty to perform safety sensitive-functions while having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.
  • Conviction, nolo contendere /guilty plea, or adjudication of guilt withheld for any offense involving a controlled substance.
  • Suspension of driving privileges resulting from impairment or intoxication caused by alcohol or drug use.
  • Traffic violations arising in connection with a fatal traffic accident, reckless driving or racing on the highways
  • Failing to immediately report to the Marine Operator Drug Testing Program Coordinator any citation received from law enforcement involving drugs or alcohol.
  • Operating a marine vehicle without a valid license.

Findings of misconduct could result in consequences, including loss of privilege to operate university-associated vessels and discipline up to and including dismissal from the University of Florida.

Note that a department is not obligated to provide work to an employee facing disciplinary action for a violation of any process, procedure, or regulation enforced by the university’s Marine Operators Drug Testing Program. 

5. Review and Adjudication

UFHR – Employee Relations administers the University’s Marine Operator Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy Program. UFHR-Employee Relations ensures that the program complies with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws, and all policies, procedures, and rules of the University of Florida.

Questions regarding this program should be directed to the Marine Operator program office at:
UFHR – Employee Relations
903 W. University Avenue
P.O. Box 115003
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-4940
CMVO@hr.ufl.edu (to expedite a response, please include the phrase “Marine Operator Drug and Alcohol Policy” in the subject line of any email inquiries or reports) 

6. Policy Violations

Failure to comply with this policy could result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Additional Resources

Resources are available to employees in safety-sensitive positions or to those having difficulties due to drug abuse and/or drug addiction. The following information is provided to individuals covered by the University of Florida Marine Operator Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy.

UF Employee Assistance Program (EAP). By calling 833-306-0103, employees can receive individual consultation sessions or be referred to community providers or agencies for assistance in dealing with drug and alcohol abuse. The EAP is free and confidential, and All UF faculty, staff, graduate assistants, non-student OPS employees, house staff/residents, and postdoc associates as well as their household members are eligible to receive services.

UF GatorWell Health Promotion Services, (352) 273-4450

Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., (352) 374-5600

UF Drug-Free Workplace Policy

UF Drug Free School (Student Affairs)

UF Regulation 2.019 – Alcoholic Beverages


History: Updated 1-1-2014, Updated 1-1-2019, Updated 3-26-2019, Updated 8-1-2019