Understanding DOT Drug Testing

This is a drug test that takes place in the Department of Transportation, which is regulated by the government.

When Congress recognized the need for a drug-free transportation industry, it passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act in 1991. Under the law, DOT agencies are required to conduct drug and alcohol testing on safety-sensitive employees so that workers and the traveling public are kept safe. For more information, visit ntatesting.com.

Part 40 is title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that describes drug and alcohol screening procedures. DOT’s Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance Office publishes these rules.

The United States Coast Guard and the DOT have industry-specific regulations to explain who must undergo testing, when, and in what circumstances. Those regulations are implemented by employers in their industry.

Who has to undergo DOT drug testing?

As part of DOT regulations, employees designated as “safety-sensitive” must undergo DOT drug tests. People who work in safety-sensitive jobs have jobs that may affect both their own safety and the safety of others.

In the DOT, the following departments have safety-sensitive positions:

  • FMSCA: holders of Commercial Driver’s Licenses who drive commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), vehicles with 16 or more passengers, or vehicles providing hazardous materials transport who must display the DOT placard.
  • USCG: People who work on ships that are commercially operated.
  • Administration for the Safe Transport of Hazardous Materials: Operators, maintenance workers, and emergency responders.
  • FRA: Personnel subject to the Hours of Service Act, such as engine and train operators, signal operators, or train dispatchers.
  • FTA: Director of Vehicle Operations, Controllers, and mechanics, as well as armed security guards.

How often do DOT drug tests have to be conducted on safety-sensitive employees?

The following situations require DOT drug testing:

Reasonable suspicion: When one or more trained supervisors believe or suspect that you are impaired. You must observe appearance, behavior, speech, smell, etc., to make this determination.

A random test. It is essential that all employees have the same chance of being selected and tested in random tests. The tests are administered on a quarterly basis.

Return-to-duty testing, in response to a drug or alcohol violation. In the first 12 months, you may be subject to at least six unannounced tests before returning to any DOT job. You will be directly observed during each test.

Follow-up testing after returning to duty. SAPs are responsible for managing follow-up testing for up to five years, determining how often and what substances employees are tested for. Testing is completed on top of other DOT-mandated testing.

Post-accident testing. A DOT accident report must be completed if certain criteria were met. A drug test must be conducted within 32 hours of the accident, and an alcohol test within 8 hours.

Can I be fired from the DOT if I fail the drug test?

You will be immediately terminated from any DOT safety-sensitive job if you fail the DOT-regulated drug test.
In addition to losing your certification or license, there may be other consequences. These will be determined by the employment agreements or policies of your company.

We ensure your business remains in compliance with DOT regulations with the help of our workforce experts. We offer regulated drug testing services through Concentra, so contact us for more information. Additionally, our clinics are staffed with a certified medical examiner who performs DOT physicals constantly.