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What You Need to Know About DOT Drug Testing

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Uncategorized

Every day, thousands of people globally rely on public transportation to reach their destinations. Typically, you entrust the safety of your loved ones, acquaintances, and co-workers to people operating those commercial vehicles.

Therefore, it is part of your responsibilities to ensure commercial vehicle operators are not abusing drugs or have no criminal records associated with drug abuse. This article will discuss the DOT drug test, who needs to be tested, the substances tested, and the tests used for DOT testing.

What is a DOT Drug Test?

A DOT drug test is drug testing conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and regulated by the government. As part of road safety, the U.S. Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act in 1991.

The act emphasized the need for DOT agencies to implement alcohol and drug testing of “safety-sensitive” employees to safeguard users. All DOT-regulated drug tests use urine samples, but other practical options are also available. The DOT agencies and the U.S. Coast Guards define the specific regulations that the industry should use to identify individuals who are subject to testing, under which situations, and when.

Who is Required to Get a DOT Drug Test?        

Anybody designated as a “safety-sensitive” employee in DOT regulations is subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing. According to the regulations, a safety-sensitive employee is any individual whose job can impact their safety and others.

Some safety-sensitive jobs, industries, and sectors are:

  • S. Coast Guard: All crew members operating commercial vessels
  • Federal Transit Administration: Including commercial vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics, armed security, and transporters of hazardous materials
  • Federal Aviation Administration: Flight attendants, ground security coordinators, flight crews, aircraft dispatchers, and others
  • Federal Railroad Administration: Train and engine workers, Hours of Service staff, train dispatchers, signal service workers, and others
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Persons operating Commercial Vehicles (CMVs), individuals with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), vehicles with at least 16 passengers, and their drivers
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration: Emergency response workers, operations workers, and maintenance personnel

Safety-sensitive operators are not the only employees subject to this drug and alcohol testing. The goal is to get all positions for DOT-regulated industries tested, regardless of the job titles.

What Substances Do DOT Test For?    

The primary aim of the DOT drug screening, according to drug and alcohol testing policy, is to ensure all safety-sensitive employees don’t indulge in illegal drugs and consume alcohol while performing their duties. All DOT drug screens use similar 5-panel tests aimed at detecting:

  • Opiates: (including hydromorphone, oxymorphone, codeine, oxycodone, heroin, and hydrocodone) for up to three days
  • Marijuana metabolites: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for up to one or more weeks
  • Phencyclidine (PCP): for up to three days
  • Cocaine metabolites: for up to three days
  • Amphetamines: (methamphetamine and 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)) for up to three days

What Tests Are Used For DOT Drug Testing?

The common test used for DOT drug testing is urine samples. However, others, such as saliva and breath samples, can be used to test alcohol deposits. The two common non-intrusive DOT drug testing options are:

Urine Drug Testing

Urine is the standard sample used for DOT to test drug deposits. This test can be done randomly during employment, pre-employment, or after workplace accidents.

Saliva & Breath Testing

Breath and saliva tests detect alcohol deposits for all safety-sensitive operators suspected of operating under alcohol influence. It can be done randomly upon suspicion.

When Are DOT Drug Tests Conducted?

There is no specific period for conducting DOT drug screens. The tests entirely depend on the company’s situational demands. They are common in situations such as:

  • Pre-employment: before someone takes over safety-sensitive responsibilities
  • Follow-up testing
  • Reasonable suspicion or cause
  • Random testing
  • Post-accident testing
  • Return-to-duty tests

Dot Drug Testing In Martinez, CA

According to the DOT regulations, an employer has the right to fire you from working in safety-sensitive sectors categorized by DOT if you fail a drug test. Thanks to ARCpoint Labs, which offers accurate and comprehensive DOT drug testing solutions in Martinez, CA, and its surrounding areas. We have qualified, federally mandated DOT experts who work closely with Quest Lab’s certified professionals to ensure high DOT testing standards. Contact us today to schedule your services.

Image Credit: Imging / Shutterstock

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