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In order to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, companies that employ safety-sensitive workers must have at least one Designated Employer Representative (DER) on staff. Typically, the DER is an experienced professional from the human resources or safety department or a high-ranking company official. The DER plays a crucial role in ensuring that the drug testing program runs smoothly and complies with all relevant regulations.

What is a Designated Employer Representative?

A Designated Employer Representative (DER) is an employee within the workplace or an employer who manages the company's drug and alcohol testing program. The DER has the authority to make decisions during the testing process, receive the results of drug and alcohol screening, and handle any necessary next steps.

The responsibilities of a DER include:

  • Ensuring compliance with DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations.
  • Selecting and supervising service agents such as third-party administrators, collection sites, laboratories, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals.
  • Developing written drug and alcohol testing policies and procedures.
  • Training supervisors and employees on drug and alcohol testing policies and procedures.
  • Making decisions during the testing process and receiving test results.
  • Removing employees from safety-sensitive positions if necessary.
  • Maintaining records related to drug and alcohol testing.
  • Ensuring the confidentiality of drug and alcohol testing information.
  • Coordinating with DOT agencies, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as necessary.
Who must appoint a DER?

Companies that are regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are required by law to have a DER in place to manage their drug and alcohol testing program. This includes employers in the aviation, trucking, and railroad industries.

However, even if an organization is not required by law to have a DER, having one in place can help protect employees, customers, and the public by promoting a safe and healthy work environment.

DER training

DER Training is essential for a Designated Employer Representative (DER) to manage a company's drug and alcohol testing program. It covers regulatory compliance, program management, and the roles and responsibilities of service agents. The training can be provided through in-person or online sessions and should be tailored to the employer's industry and requirements.

Can an employer appoint any TPA as DER?

It is recommended that the Designated Employer Representative (DER) for a drug and alcohol testing program be an employee of the company rather than a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) because the DER should have expertise and knowledge about the program, and be readily available to handle any issues that may arise.


The Designated Employer Representative (DER) plays a vital role in managing a company's drug and alcohol testing program. With the proper training and knowledge of DOT regulations, the DER can effectively oversee the program, work with service agents, and ensure the safety of employees and the public. The DER's responsibilities are crucial for maintaining compliance and the integrity of the testing process, making them an essential part of any company's operations.

If you require professional help with your drug testing program and have queries regarding Designated Employer Representative (DER) training, feel free to contact goMDnow at 980-202-1466