DOT Drug Testing 101

Here's a quick and dirty introduction for anyone wondering what a DOT drug test is.
Nina Fenton
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DOT Drug Testing 101 Infographic

It’s no secret that many companies require potential new hires to take drug tests prior to being officially offered a position and completing the hiring process. Companies governed by the agencies under the umbrella of the Department of Transportation (DOT) are mandated to require future employees to submit a urine sample for analysis to ensure they are drug free. However, DOT doesn’t allow these companies to stop there, like most non-DOT companies, with just a single pre-employment test. In fact, safety-sensitive employees can get selected for random five panel drug tests that are subject to the same, very strict DOT guidelines for the duration of their employment.

Luckily, Health Street has over 2,500 locations nationwide, including Mount Pleasant, MI, that provide the very drug testing services mandated by the DOT! Our testing procedures fully comply with federal “chain of custody” regulations, includes analysis conducted by a SAMHSA certified lab, and final review by a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to ensure that the results are reliable and accurate. We also provide management of Random Pools to keep you in compliance with the DOT regs.

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DOT Drug Testing 101

Let’s be honest, a DOT drug test can be a little confusing to read about when some of the information out there is loaded with industry jargon that many of us are unfamiliar with. so, save your brain power for now and let us guide you through the basics of DOT drug testing in a manner that won’t make your eyes cross or cause your brain to sizzle!

What is a DOT Drug Test?

The DOT adopted the drug and alcohol regulations set forth by the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991. The OTETA requires all employees who are considered to have safety-sensitive job duties to submit to drug tests whenever requested by a DOT agency to ensure that the drug and alcohol related codes of conduct are abided by.

Who Takes a DOT Drug Test and Why?

There are 11 agencies currently under the DOT banner and they are: Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Maritime Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and Surface Transportation Board.

All employees of the aforementioned DOT agencies, are subject to a drug test at any point and time. Drug testing is of utmost importance given that the number one goal of DOT employers is the safety of their employees and of course the safety of the public. There are quite a few additional reasons for the DOT to conduct random drug testing, though, Here are a few more common reasons workers are subject to a DOT drug test:

  • Future employees of any company governed by DOT regs must submit to a pre-employment drug test prior to being officially hired
  • Existing employees of any company governed by DOT regs are randomly selected for DOT drug tests throughout the course of their employment if they are currently performing safety-sensitive duties.
  • When an accident occurs that meets certain threshold requirements, employers must conduct drug and alcohol tests to determine if the worker was under the influence at the time of the incident.
  • Employers who have reasonable suspicion, based on observations that can be verbalized, that any safety-sensitive employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol must request a DOT drug test.
  • Employees who have previously failed a DOT drug test must undergo return-to-duty testing after completing any mandated substance abuse programs ordered by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) before they are able to return to work.
  • If an employee who failed a DOT drug test is lucky enough to pass a return-to-duty test, then Follow Up Tests are conducted randomly and continuously for up to five years. This is done at the direction of the SAP to ensure that they are remain drug free.

How are DOT Drug Tests Performed and What Do They Test For?

All DOT agency requested drug tests are based on a five panel drug screening and are performed using the split sample method. This method is pretty much exactly what is sounds like it is. When an employee provides a lab technician a urine sample, it is then literally divided into two separate containers. One container is intended for the DOT appointed lab to test and analyze while the other container remains undisturbed for further testing by an outside lab should the employee feel it is necessary once the original results are in.

As part of the 49CFR Part 40 Subpart F, the DOT requires employers to test their workers for the following substances:

  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates – Opium, Codeine and Morphine derivatives
  • Amphetamines, methamphetamines and 6AM (6-Acetylmorphine or metabolic heroin)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Alcohol

What Happens If a Test is Failed?

When an employee fails to pass their drug test, he or she is then removed from duty and will be required to see a substance abuse professional (SAP). The SAP may then require the worker to participate in a substance abuse program. To return to work, the employee must take and pass an “observed” (someone watches) Return-to-Duty DOT drug test. Finally, they’ll also have to submit to repetitious, observed “Follow-Up” drug testing at random after they return to work.

If a worker tests positive when a Health Street DOT drug test is performed, employers can rest easy knowing we can help them maintain DOT compliance. Our assistance includes guiding employers through the process of referring employees to SAPs and reintegrating them in the workforce at the appropriate time.

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