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DOT Drug Testing

DOT Drug Testing

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DOT Drug Testing Scheduling and Random Drug Testing Program

DOT Logo

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates businesses that play a role in transportation. Part of those regulations state that any people who are in safety-sensitive positions must be subjected to DOT drug and alcohol testing.

In compliance with the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, the DOT requires drug and alcohol testing for employees in industries including, but not limited to: aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit and pipelines.

The DOT regulates who can perform the testing, how those tests are to be conducted and what procedures to follow for testing. These regulations govern transportation employers, safety-sensitive transportation employees and service agents.

These regulations are covered in the 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 40. The Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) provides authoritative interpretations of these rules and their implementation.

Trains Planes and Automobiles

What type of testing must be performed to comply with DOT regulations?

Drug tests must be 5-panel urine tests for the following drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiate metabolites
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Alcohol tests are performed using a breathalyzer.

When is testing performed?

DOT regulations state that businesses must have drug testing performed under the following circumstances:

  • Pre-Employment
  • Random
  • Post-Incident
  • Return to duty
  • Follow up
  • Reasonable suspicion

A drug test must be negative before an employee is hired to work or cleared to return to work.

Where can I read these regulations in full?

What is a consortium in the context of DOT regulation compliance?

A Consortium/Third Party Administrator (C/TPA) is an agency that helps employers administer DOT regulation compliance. A consortium is a group of individuals or organizations that pool their resources for a common goal. In this case, it's a group of businesses that pool their resources to comply with DOT compliance.

Some services that a C/TPA might offer policy development, training, drug testing, alcohol testing, laboratory coordination, medical review officer services, substance abuse professional services and more.

What happens if a DOT covered employee tests positive for drugs or has an alcohol test reading of 0.04 or greater?

Any employees that test positive for drugs or alcohol must be immediately removed from performing safety-sensitive functions. That employee must also not return to performing those safety-sensitive duties until they have undergone evaluation by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), completed treatment prescribed by an SAP, been reevaluated post-treatment and cleared for a return to duty and undergone a follow up drug test with a negative reading. The employee must also undergo a minimum of six follow-up tests within the first 12 months of their return to duty date, plus follow-up testing that may or may not continue for up to five years as determined by the SAP.

What if a DOT covered employee refuses a drug or alcohol test?

If an employee has refused to take a drug or alcohol test, that is treated the same as if the employee had failed a drug or alcohol test.

What if an alcohol test result is above 0.02 but below 0.04?

The employee must be removed immediately from performing any safety-sensitive duties, but can return to work after a certain period of time. The period of time and whether or not a retest is allowed depends on which regulations are being followed.

Aviation (FAA) - Employee can return to work after eight hours. A retest is allowed.

Railroad (FRA) - Employee can return to work after eight hours. A retest is not allowed.

Motor Carrier (FMCSA) - Employee can return to work after 24 hours. A retest is not allowed.

Transit (FTA) - Employee can return to work after eight hours. A retest is allowed.

Pipeline (PHMSA) - Employee can return to work after eight hours. A retest is allowed.

No SAP evaluation is required if an alcohol test shows a level of between 0.02 and below 0.04.

If an applicant or employee fails a DOT drug test can they contest the results of the test?

The applicant or employee can request that the "B" sample, or the other half of the split sample collected at the time the original collection, be tested by a different laboratory than the one that tested the "A" sample. The request should be made to the MRO within 72 hours of the employee being notified of the positive test result.

The employer must comply with the employee's request to have the "B" sample tested. The company will be responsible for the second test unless it is specified in the company's drug testing policy that the employee must pay for the second test. If the company has mandated in its policy that the employee must pay, then it can lawfully withhold the amount of the second test from the employee's pay.

If a driver with a commercial driver's license (CDL) tests positive on a drug test or has a blood alcohol level above 0.04 on an alcohol test, will that driver's CDL be suspended?

No. The Federal Motor Carrier Regulations do not suspend the CDL if the driver tests positive on a drug test or has an alcohol test of 0.04 or greater.

In Oregon, if the Oregon licensed driver is employed by an Oregon employer subject to ORS 825, the verified positive drug test result will be reported to the Oregon DMV and it will be posted to his/her driving record. In Washington, if the Washington licensed driver tests positive for drugs, alcohol, or refuses a test this will be reported to the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) and will suspend the CDL until the driver completes the required Return-to-Duty process, 49 CFR Part 40 Subpart O. Other states may have similar requirements.


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