Alcohol Drug Test For Employees: Here’s What You Need To Know

workplace alcohol testing

It’s a common practice in the pre-employment screening process to test for illegal drug usage, especially if your company upholds a strict zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse in the workplace. 

So, what about testing for substances that are not only legal but commonly enjoyed by adults in both social and professional settings? 

 For many employers, including an workplace alcohol testing in your drug testing process may seem like a waste of resources. 

 After all, most of us partake in an occasional drink, right? 

Sure, social drinking may be relatively harmless for your employees. But there are a few key reasons why you should consider implementing a comprehensive drug and alcohol test policy that allows you to monitor the potential abuse of this popular elixir.  


Why Should I Use An Alcohol Drug Test For My Employees? 

First, it’s important to remember that testing for alcohol isn’t necessarily to discourage your team members from drinking entirely.  

Instead, these tests can help you identify problematic drinking habits amongst job candidates. It also helps you uphold safety regulations for jobs that involve operating a vehicle or other dangerous, heavy machinery.  

Here are the top 3 reasons to consider using a drug and alcohol test 

Pre-Employment Job Screening 

As mentioned previously, most adults engage in casual drinking behaviors, particularly on the weekend. 

With that being said, there is still a chance that job seekers are masking a more serious alcohol problem. And sadly, many employers won’t discover it until it impacts their job performance. 

By using a pre-employment alcohol test, you’ll be able to deduce if any alcohol present in their system is within a normal range. A higher-than-average BAC could be indicative of an underlying substance abuse disorder. 

Post-Accident Analysis 

If an accident has occurred at your workplace, you’ll need to take quick action to investigate if the employees involved were under the influence of any mind-altering substances.  

For a post-accident alcohol drug test, you’ll need to collect a sample from the at-fault party as soon as possible. That way, you can get the most accurate reading of how much, if any, alcohol was in their system at the time of the incident. 

For a smooth investigation process, consider having a clause of post-accident alcohol testing written into your employee contract. This allows you to enforce these protocols on your terms.  

High-Risk Job Requirements 

In some cases, drug and alcohol tests become a routine part of maintaining a safe environment for your employees and the community they serve. This is especially true for individuals working in high-risk jobs, like operating a large vehicle or dealing with complex machinery.  

Typically, these types of jobs will include regulatory requirements like random drug screenings. This discourages substance abuse and protect your company from the legal ramifications of an on-site accident.  

If your company is using DOT drug testing procedures, then alcohol will automatically be included in the screening panel for your employees.  

But if you’re operating independently, it’s still a good idea to implement drug and alcohol test procedures for any employee with a job that poses a threat to the safety and well-being of those around them. 

What Types Of Alcohol Tests Can I Use? 

No matter what your reasons are for using an alcohol test on your employees, there are two main forms of testing that you can use to uphold a drug-free workplace and prevent unwanted substance use.  


Most commonly used in traffic stops, alcohol breath testers are one of the fastest and most effective ways to determine if an employee has been misusing alcohol while on the job.  

These portable devices allow the subject to exhale into the BAC test, delivering results in a matter of seconds. For drivers operating a motor vehicle, the legal blood alcohol limit in most states is 0.8.  

However, if the employee being tested is operating a work-related vehicle, then a zero-tolerance policy for even the normal alcohol level in blood should be strictly adhered to. 

Now, it’s important to note that there are a few downsides to using breathalyzers for employment purposes that you may want to keep in mind.  

For example, the BAC test is far from foolproof. In fact, there are many non-harmful substances, like mouthwash and asthma treatments, that can cause a breathalyzer to register a high BAC, even if the employee hasn’t consumed any alcohol. 

Another factor to consider is that alcohol breath testers are designed to show the current blood alcohol level at any given moment. This makes them less effective for determining whether or not the employee is struggling with an ongoing drinking problem. 

When Should I Use A Breathalyzer For An Alcohol Test?

The best usage of a breathalyzer device in the workplace is for monitoring employees who work with dangerous machinery in real-time. Then, you can reduce the risk of a life-threatening accident. 

Breath Tester Pros & Cons: 


  • Provides immediate results about an employee’s blood alcohol level 
  • Quick, easy, and efficient for regular usage 
  • Affordable and available for businesses of all sizes 


  • Only shows the BAC in the current moment 
  • May be triggered by non-alcoholic substances 
  • Won’t help you identify ongoing drinking habits 

When you need results fast, a breathalyzer can give you the results you need without a complicated collection process.  

Urine Tests 

Another popular method of drug and alcohol testing is an alcohol urine test. This can often be used in conjunction with a standard 12-panel drug screening.  

The substances detected in a 12-panel drug test include… 

  • Amphetamines 
  • Cocaine 
  • Marijuana 
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) 
  • Methamphetamines 
  • Barbiturates 
  • Benzodiazepines 
  • Buprenorphine 
  • Methadone 
  • Oxycodone 
  • Morphine 
  • Ecstasy 

And while alcohol is not automatically included in these standard drug screenings, you can easily request an EtG test. This detects the presence of alcohol in urine, alongside other pre-employment drug tests. 

The EtG test is a highly effective method for finding traces of alcohol in the system for up to 5 days after consumption. This provides an in-depth analysis of potential drinking habits based on these results.  

These tests are designed to detect ethyl glucuronide, which is a byproduct of alcohol occurring once your body has begun to metabolize the substance. This allows you to have a more comprehensive understanding of the subject’s alcohol usage than you would find from a one-time breathalyzer test. 

But just like with a breathalyzer, there are some pitfalls to using alcohol urine tests in your workplace. 

Since these tests require samples to be collected and then sent off to a lab for analysis, they’re not a reliable means of screening employees who are preparing to operate heavy machinery.  

EtG tests are prone to being fooled by non-alcoholic substances, including cleaning products and food prepared with trace amounts of alcohol.  

When Should I Use An Alcohol Urine Test? 

To get the best results from using a urine test, it should be included in an overall screening process that can be used to analyze substance usage amongst potential and current employees.  

An EtG test will result in either a High Positive, Low Positive, or Very Low Positive distinction. This will help paint a picture of any ongoing drinking habits the subject may have. 

Alcohol Urine Test Pros & Cons: 


  • Affordable and easy to implement 
  • Can be used alongside 12-panel drug testing 
  • Provides in-depth analysis of substance use 
  • Detects alcohol in the system for up to 5 days 


  • May take a few days to receive results 
  • Won’t provide immediate results for regulating high-risk jobs 
  • Can be triggered by non-alcoholic substances 

If you’re creating a thorough drug testing process for your workplace, then including an alcohol urine test is a great way to ensure that all of your bases are covered in one quick sample.  

How Can I Decide Which Workplace Testing Method Is Right For Me? 

We understand that protecting your workplace from accidents and other troubling effects related to alcohol is a top priority for businesses large and small. 

S&G Labs has been a leader in the employee drug testing space since 2015, and our team is committed to helping you maintain a drug-free work environment that puts the well-being of your team and your clients first through reliable workplace alcohol testing procedures.

We walk you through every step of the screening process so that you can run your business with confidence. 

Learn more about our comprehensive drug testing options today: S&G Labs Hawaii Employer Solutions