CDT Test (for alcohol Misuse) - Self-Collect and Post
Results available: 3-5 working days
This home CDT test (carbohydrate deficient transferrin) is a blood test used to assess the level of alcohol consumption over the previous 7-14 days. It is the test used by the DVLA when a person applies for their driving license to be reinstated. The DVLA accepts a CDT cut-off level of ≤ 2.2 %.
It has an advantage over testing for alcohol in urine or blood which is only detectable for 24-48 hours. For the purposes of detecting alcohol misuse, it is not recommended to use CDT alone, but also to test for other parameters such as MCV and liver function tests as in our Alcohol Profile.
Please make sure that your address details are correct at the time of ordering the test. A self-collection pack containing clear instructions and testing equipment will then be posted to you.
The blood sample is taken by pricking your finger with a small sharp lancet, the same small needles that are used by diabetics when they are checking their blood sugar. Please watch this video showing how this is done, before trying to collect the sample. Only a small amount of blood is needed but some samples may be rejected by the laboratory because there is not enough.
You can then post the sample you have collected in the postage-paid plastic envelope that is provided. Please allow time for this to reach the laboratory.
The results are usually available within 3-5 working days of reaching the laboratory and will be e-mailed to you with an interpretation of the meaning.
Causes of Raised CDT:
1. Alcohol Misuse (A 19 out of 20 chance): i.e. by far the most likely cause
2. Liver Disease: Certain liver problems which cause a blockage or damage to bile ducts; e.g. primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, gallstones or liver/pancreatic cancer. These causes can be excluded if liver function tests (LFTs) are normal.
3. Transferrin Variants: Transferrin is a protein used to transport iron and can undergo changes by the consumption of alcohol. The normal type is C. People who have type D may have a raised CDT. Type D is rare in caucasions but may be present in 10% of Africans.
4. Carbohydrate deficient glycoprotein syndromes: Very syndromes resulting in mental retardation in children.
How much alcohol will raise the level of CDT:
You need to drink the equivalent of 100-150g of alcohol per day to raise CDT levels. This equates to 5 pints of beer, a bottle of wine, or one-third of a bottle of spirits daily.
Intermittent or "binge" drinking can also raise CDT levels. This would have to be in the range of 200-300g of alcohol on two occasions per week (around double the above amount) and no alcohol on the other days. Just one day of excessive drinking with the other days of no alcohol would probably not be enough to raise CDT levels over a 7-14 day period.
High risk offenders with alcohol problems
Defined in terms of the alcohol-related driving convictions below, the courts notify the DVLA of high risk offenders.
An independent medical examination will be arranged when an application for licence reinstatement is received by the DVLA. The assessment includes:
- serum CDT assay
- any further testing indicated.
If a licence is awarded, the ’til 70 licence is restored for Group 1 car and motorcycle driving. Consideration may be given to a Group 2 licence.
If a high risk offender has a previous history of alcohol dependence or persistent misuse but has satisfactory examination and blood tests, a short period licence is issued for ordinary and vocational entitlement but is dependent on their ability to meet the standards as specified.
A high risk offender found to have a current history of alcohol misuse or dependence and/or unexplained abnormal blood test results will have the application refused.
The high risk offender scheme applies to drivers convicted of the following:
- one disqualification for driving or being in charge of a vehicle when the level of alcohol in the body equalled or exceeded either one of these measures:
- 87.5 mcg per 100 ml of breath
- 200.0 mg per 100 ml of blood
- 267.5 mg per 100 ml of urine
- two disqualifications within the space of 10 years for drinking-driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
- one disqualification for refusing or failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis
- one disqualification for refusing to give permission for a laboratory test of a specimen of blood for alcohol analysis.