This article will teach you how to become a professional breath alcohol technician (BAT) – one that is qualified to perform the full Department of Transportation alcohol testing process. There are steps that must be followed, and the Department of Transportation Regulations list very specific training requirements to become a breath alcohol technician.
What sort of background do I need to become a BAT for DOT alcohol testing?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) rules do not require breath alcohol technicians to have any specific background or education prior to being trained as a BAT. Although no medical background is required, persons with an additional certification in the healthcare field are typically at an advantage when seeking employment as a breath alcohol technician. The reason for this is due to the fact that the employer (most often a clinic or healthcare facility) can utilize the employee’s other healthcare skills when he or she is not performing alcohol tests (such as nurses, X-ray technicians, phlebotomists, and Medical Assistants).
On the other hand, after completing the required training, you may decide to open your own alcohol testing business or sell your services to companies. In fact, Certified Training Solutions offers an inexpensive online training course that teaches you how to open your own alcohol and drug testing business.
What should I know prior to becoming a breath alcohol technician?
The DOT rules for alcohol testing are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically: 49 CFR Part 40. The DOT has also published a number of documents to help the BAT in ensuring that they are properly trained and aware of the requirements for those performing this important role in the DOT’s safety program. One such DOT publication is called “How Can I Become a Technician For DOT Alcohol Testing?”
You may find this document at the following link:
What are the training requirements to be a BAT for DOT alcohol testing?
The DOT rules do not require a breath alcohol technician to be “certified” per se; however, many companies offer a Certification upon completion of a training program. The DOT calls the training “qualification” training (rather than “certification” training). However, the terms ‘qualified’ and ‘certified’ are often used interchangeably by those working in the industry.
The required training for breath alcohol technicians consists of two components:
1. The procedures training (this consists of in-depth Rules & Regulations training . . . the “how to” of performing every aspect of the breath alcohol test in order to ensure compliance and prepare the BAT to handle all types of alcohol testing situations).
2. The device proficiency training (this is your hands-on training, which must be conducted with a qualified Instructor on your specific device).
You must complete Component 1 prior to completing Component 2, and both components must be completed within a period of 30 days or less. BAT trainees must complete a program of training that follows the DOT Model Course requirements, such as Certified Training Solutions’ breath alcohol technician training course.
The DOT-required qualification training must teach the BAT the Part 40 Rules relating to Alcohol Testing Procedures; the specific steps in properly completing the testing process and in completing the Federal Alcohol Testing Form (ATF); specific training on how to properly handle testing problems; training on how to handle errors (called “flaws”) in the testing process; and detailed information on the BAT’s responsibilities under the Federal Regulations in the DOT alcohol testing process.
It is important to note that the second component of BAT training/certification is “instrument specific” by Federal Regulation. Unlike the training for DOT specimen collectors, there is no one-size-fits-all for breath alcohol technicians. You must be trained on the specific make and model of your evidential breath testing device (EBT).
Note: The first component of BAT training is the same for everyone (procedures). However, the 2nd component needs to be hands-on, using your specific breathalyzer model for your mock tests/device proficiency training. Training Solutions offer full BAT training and certification on most popular devices on the market.
The device proficiency training must consist of seven (7) error-free, consecutive mock alcohol tests on your device. The mock tests should be fully acted out (including completion of the paperwork and recording of the result), as if the BAT is conducting real tests on a real employee. Your qualified trainer must oversee your mock tests and attest in writing that they are error-free.
In the hands-on training, your qualified trainer should also teach you, in detail, how to handle error messages or malfunctions on your particular EBT; how to conduct accuracy checks; how to properly record accuracy checks and calibrations in your Log; what the Quality Assurance Plan (QAP) is for your device and the specifics of following your QAP. Your Trainer may also train you how to perform calibration adjustments on your EBT (however, the Trainer must be authorized by the device’s manufacturer to do so).
Once fully trained, the BAT is typically good-to-go for 5 years. (The Regulations require that BATs repeat their training every 5 years.) Just be sure to keep up on any changes to the Regulations that may affect how you conduct Federal alcohol tests.
Can anyone make a good breath alcohol technician?
As mentioned, there are no requirements in the Federal Regulations for who may become a BAT for DOT alcohol testing; however, there are a number of personality traits that may help the BAT in succeeding in this field of work.
First, the BAT should be a person of integrity. Performing alcohol tests for DOT safety-sensitive employee is serious business. The safety of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of people may be at risk if the BAT does not perform a DOT test properly, and thereby, allows an intoxicated and dangerous employee back on the road, in the air flying a plane, and so on. “Cutting corners” should never be considered in the DOT alcohol or drug testing process. The BAT should take his or her job of ensuring the integrity of the testing process very seriously. The BAT should not be a person at risk of bad judgment calls (such as willing to take a bribe from an employee to assist the employee in beating the test).
Second, the BAT should be detail-oriented. There are many steps in the DOT alcohol testing process, and all steps must be followed in a specific sequence. Some breath testing instruments may be complicated to use, so the BAT needs to make careful effort to fully learn each feature and function of their particular breathalyzer. Failure to complete a single step may cause serious problems in the testing process.
Next, the BAT should have a passion for safety and for following Rules and Regulations. If you are a person that likes to blaze your own trail and find your own way to do things, DOT testing may not be for you. Breath alcohol technicians are bound to a very strict order and process for completing DOT alcohol tests. If you enjoy consistency and following a process the same way every time, you may enjoy performing alcohol tests for DOT– and, you may be very good at it.
Finally, the BAT should enjoy working with people, but also be willing to exert authority, when needed. Breath alcohol technicians meet lots of people face-to face every day and work with them very closely. Most alcohol tests go smoothly, but you should be thick-skinned enough to handle those that do not. The BAT is charged with handling difficult testing situations, when they arise. This may include confronting hostile and abusive employees, persons attempting avert the alcohol test, uncooperative employees, and potentially intoxicated employees.
Are there risks associated with being a breath alcohol technician for DOT drug testing?
Acting as a BAT has its own occupational hazards, like any other job. However, there are additional risks to being a BAT, such as the possibility of legal action against you (for example: by an employee who is unhappy that he tested positive and lost his job). There is also the possibility of Enforcement Action against you by the DOT or a DOT Agency (if you do things wrong in the testing process, such as not following the DOT rules/process, missing steps, making mistakes, etc.).
Becoming a BAT for DOT alcohol testing can be a rewarding profession; however, it also may also come with frustrations and risks if you do not receive proper and thorough training that fully prepares you to act in a 100% compliant manner at all times.
How long does it take to get trained as a BAT for DOT alcohol testing?
Getting into the profession is relatively simple – First, you need to complete the required two-step training. Certified Training Solutions’ Breath Alcohol Training Course will help you take the first steps in obtaining the most thorough, professional training available in the industry. Our instructors are highly-trained and knowledgeable in every aspect of the DOT Rules for alcohol testing.
Training typically takes two days, and they do not necessarily need to be two consecutive days. At Certified Training Solutions, you will accomplish the procedures training (Component 1) by completing our DOT-compliant, online BAT procedures course. In order to cover every aspect and detail, as required by the DOT Model Course, the online training course takes about 7-8 hours to complete (self-paced).
After completing the online BAT procedures course, you must schedule and complete your hands-on, instrument proficiency training with a qualified instructor. Component 2 of the training may take anywhere from 5-8 hours, depending on the complexity of your specific evidential breath testing device.
What if I do not have an evidential breath testing device – can I still be trained as a BAT?
Sure, we ‘could’ train you as a BAT, using one of our training units (we have several models). However, if that particular device is not the exact one you will be using in practice (in the real world for testing), you may have just wasted your time and money. BAT training/certification is ‘good’ only on the device you are trained on.
Example: Let’s say you are starting a drug and alcohol testing business and you do not own a device yet, but you want to get your BAT training completed first. You ask us to train you as a BAT – but you have to select an instrument that you want to be certified on (remember, no one-size-fits-all). You choose the Intoximeters Alco-sensor IV/RBT IV device. We train you on this device and give you your BAT Certificate. However, three months later when you’re ready to purchase your own device, you buy the Alcovisor Jupiter(which is less expensive, easier to use, and offers more features). Unfortunately, your BAT certification is “no good” on the Jupiter. You will have to go through re-training on your new instrument, since BAT qualification training is instrument-specific by Federal Regulation.
If you do not yet have an approved device, we offer the best devices at the best prices. Click here to see DOT-approved breath testing devices. If you are new to the industry, be sure to purchase an APPROVED evidential breath testing device. More information is available in our previous article, Choosing a Breath Testing Instrument.
You must purchase a device that is listed on the NHTSA Conforming Products List (CPL) of evidential breath testing devices. Warning: Do not be fooled by inexpensive devices for sale on the internet that say “DOT-approved’ . . . Call the manufacturer and/or read the small print to ensure that you are buying a fully-approved evidential breath tester (not a ‘screening device’). Most devices under $1,000.00 are approved for screening tests only, and you cannot be trained as a BAT on an alcohol screening device (ASD), nor are you legally able to complete the full DOT alcohol testing process (i.e. confirmation tests) using an alcohol screening device.
As always, we are happy to assist with your questions. Please see our other popular articles
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The information presented here is meant to provide general information and guidance. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Legal advice must be provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship specifically with reference to all the facts of the particular situation under consideration. Such is not the case here, and accordingly, the information presented here must not be relied on as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel. When in doubt, check with your corporate legal counsel and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the General Counsel or an agent of the operating agency that covers your industry. Certified Training Solutions is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage relating to the use of the information in this article. Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.
Certified Training Solutions © Copyright October 2016; updated August 2020