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DOT Testing 101

by | Dec 24, 2023 | Uncategorized

To maintain a drug-free workplace, companies require a single pre-employment drug test. However, companies governed by the regulations of agencies under the U.S Department of Transportation need certain workers to submit ongoing drug tests and must continue to prove their drug-free status. These employees fall under teams offering transportation services on roads, rails, air, and water.

The U.S Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act in 1991 after recognizing the need for an alcohol-free and drug-free transportation industry. The act expected DOT agencies to administer comprehensive drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive transportation employees. To ensure compliance, the Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, an office within the DOT, enacted rules on DOT tests’ application, testing, and reporting procedures.

Who is Subject to DOT Drug Tests?

As outlined in the DOT’s employee handbook on alcohol and drug testing procedures, the department seeks to employ 100% drug-free and alcohol-free operators. But, this doesn’t mean only operators should be screened and tested for drugs. Any job duty considered safety-sensitive under federal law follows DOT drug testing policies. When determining whether a position falls under safety-sensitive, the DOT assesses the responsibilities, not just the job titles. Safety sensitive duties include:

  • Operating a bus, train, or ferry
  • Driving a truck
  • Repairing an airplane
  • Working on a pipeline

Additionally, security guards and flight attendants are also included in the DOT testing pool. Any job involving tasks that might affect the safety of transportation of workers or passengers is required to submit to DOT drug tests.

What Substances Does DOT Test For?

The DOT implements comprehensive testing for both alcohol and drug use. The DOT test screens for five classes of drugs:

  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates – opium and codeine derivatives
  • Phencyclidine – PCP

Marijuana and amphetamines were the most common drugs detected during the 2015 DOT testing for commercial motor vehicle drivers. While positive results remain low for commercial drivers, with 1.85% positive DOT tests in 2015, the number is still high as DOT is to ensure transportation safety countrywide.

What Tests are Used for DOT Testing?

The DOT exclusively collects and tests urine for drug testing. Breath and saliva are used in DOT alcohol testing. All DOT’s testing methods are non-intrusive.

When DOT Tests Are Conducted?

Several scenarios warrant drug testing on DOT employees:

  • Pre-employment screening
  • Random tests 
  • Reasonable cause
  • Post-accident
  • Return To Duty
  • Follow up testing

Before a new hire for a safety-sensitive position begins task performance, they must successfully complete a DOT drug screening. The employer expects a negative drug test result before hiring the individual to ensure their safety awareness and drug-free status.

If a supervisor suspects or witnesses impairment of a DOT employee, they may conduct reasonable cause testing. To prove impairment enough to warrant reasonable suspicion, supervisors must show evidence of the following:

  • Suspicious odors
  • Slurred speech or incoherent dialogue
  • Inappropriate conduct or unprofessional behavior

Random drug testing addresses the concern of drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace. They are conducted at any time, but an employer can’t subject an employee to random testing just because they want to. Random tests should be administered randomly, and every employee must have an equal chance of being tested.

What Conduct is Prohibited by DOT Regulations?

The primary goal of a DOT drug and alcohol program is to prevent safety-sensitive employees from using drugs or alcohol while attending to safety-sensitive tasks. As such, certain behavior is explicitly barred for safety-sensitive employees reporting for duty or remaining on duty:

  • Under the influence: Workers with a blood concentration of .04 or more are barred from performing their duties. Most workers are prohibited from using alcohol within four hours of reporting for duty. For flight attendants and crew members, it’s extended to eight hours.
  • Drug use: Employees might be restricted from reporting or staying on duty if they are under the influence of illicit drugs. In some cases, controlled substances might be allowed if used at the discretion of a medical practitioner.
  • Test refusal: Refusing a drug test will warrant duties dismissal. It’s also forbidden to interfere with a collected specimen or the testing process.

DOT Testing in Roswell, GA

DOT testing is integral in maintaining a safe, drug-free workplace. The DOT employs a comprehensive drug screening process for safety-sensitive workers. Safety-sensitive employees under the influence of drugs or alcohol pose a threat to themselves, the people around them, and the transportation industry at large.

At ARCpoint Labs, we understand the importance of DOT testing, and we support employers like you in ensuring safety for your workers. We have for 18 years offered accurate, reliable, and confidential DOT drug testing in Roswell, GA. Our drug testing and screening services are centered around reducing drug use in the workplace, ensuring worker accountability, and complying with DOT guidelines.

If you need comprehensive DOT drug testing in Roswell, GA, we can help. Contact us today, and let’s discuss your testing needs.

Image Source:  Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock

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