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DOT Drug Testing Guide

U.S. Department of Transportation Drug Testing

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Department of Transportation (DOT) takes safety seriously across all modes, from roads to railroads to water and to air; overland as well as underground. To ensure that their employees are 100% alcohol- and drug-free, they have formulated a whole testing program which has pretty strict standards.

Table of Contents

What is DOT Drug Screen?

Department of transportation logoThe Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 defines the rules for DOT physical and drug screen for the transportation employees. These regulations are applicable to all the transportation employees, service agents, and safety-sensitive transportation employees. Rough estimates tell us that there are 10 million people who work in these fields. The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) has the authority to publish, implement, and interpret these rules.

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What jobs are subject to DOT drug testing?

  • Flight crews, flight attendants, and flight instructors
  • Commercial vehicle drivers who are Commercial Motor Carriers, such as Commercial Driver’s License holders
  • Maritime jobs such as the crew operating a commercial vessel
  • Jobs in operations, maintenance, and emergency response
  • Transit jobs such as vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics and armed security
  • Railroad workers

Who is Subject DOT Drug Testing?

Any safety-sensitive employee is subject to DOT drug & alcohol testing. Here’s a quick overview of the employees marked as safety-sensitive operators that are subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing.

  • Aviation such as flight crews, flight attendants, flight instructors
  • Commercial Motor Carriers such as Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders who drive commercial vehicles
  • Maritime such as crewmembers operating a commercial vessel
  • Pipelines such as folks working in operations, maintenance, and emergency response
  • Transit such as vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics and armed security
  • Railroad

Substances Tested On DOT Drug Tests

These drug groups are tested for by Department of Transportation.

When Can Employees Be Tested?

Safety-sensitive employees can be tested by the department in several different situations:

  • Pre-employment
  • Post-Accident
  • Return-to-duty
  • Reasonable Suspicion/Cause
  • Follow-up
  • Random


Can Anyone refuse a DOT drug test?

Refusing the DOT drug test can have severe consequences. It is required to take the test even if one believes that have been unfairly selected. Meanwhile, it is possible to write a letter to the employer or the appropriate DOT agency to express the concerns.

What if the drug test comes back positive?

If the drug test comes back positive, one will be dismissed from performing safety-sensitive functions. Employee may lose their licenses or certifications to perform the job. They’ll have to undergo an evaluation by a Substance Abuse Professional and complete a counseling or treatment and provide a negative result upon their return.

What Types Of Test Does DOT Administer?

For alcohol testing, they require a breath test, and for all the other drugs, urine test or urinalysis is used.

DOT Alcohol Test

To ensure validity and confidentiality, a Screen Test Technician or Breath Alcohol Technician will use a device approved by the department to test employees after they sign the Step #2 of the Alcohol Testing Form. If the BAC is less than 0.02, the test is considered negative and no further action is required, other than the tester providing two copies of the result. If the BAC is greater than 0.02, a confirmation test will be administered after a period of 15 minutes, but no later than 30 minutes of taking the first test. Only a Breath Alcohol Technician can administer this test, and one won’t be allowed to eat or drink anything, or leave the area. If confirmed, the test will be considered positive and reported to the employer.

How is a Urine Drug Test Administered?

The urine drug testing process is done the same way by all the agencies that may require the test. It has three components: collection, testing, and review by the Medical Review Officer.

Can Anyone Refuse To Pass The Test?

Even if one believes that they are unfairly selected or have any other reason for not yielding to a dot drug screen, take the test anyway. Because in case of refuse, it can have worse consequences. The rule of thumb is to take the test, and then write a letter to the employer or the appropriate DOT drug agency and express the concerns. One can easily find the contact details of the agencies online. Just make sure to contact the employer or the agency as soon as possible after the test.



Leave a comment

  • Tanner Hansen
    After failing a DOT pre employment urine test, does the employer your applying for see the exact details, i.e. what drugs you tested positive for? And if they do find out the details are they aloud to tell everyone in the company the details or just that I failed the pre-employment?
  • Sean Michael McGuigan
    Does a DOT drug screen include a hair follicle test?
    • Jojo
      No it does not. Only certain employers require the hair follicle test. It will not be done by the DOT