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DOT Drug Testing

What Is a DOT Drug Test?

If you are performing tasks on the job that are safety-sensitive according to the US Department of Transportation, such as driving a truck, working on pipelines, operating a train, or fixing a plane, then you are subject to an actual DOT drug test.

Who Uses DOT Drug Testing?

A DOT test refers to a drug test procedure required from individuals and private corporations under contract with or under the authority of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Employees who work in highly sensitive positions or unsafe environments falling under DOT jurisdiction must undergo a urine drug test. Job applicants for the same security and safety-sensitive positions are likewise required to undergo pre-employment drug screening.

The Department of Transportation covers several government agencies associated with U.S. transportation, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the United States Coast Guard, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration. The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance is also under the Department of Transportation and is responsible for implementing the drug and alcohol testing program of the U.S. government.

Following is a List of Some Jobs That Perform Safety-sensitive Functions:

  • Federal Aviation Administration Drug Testing
  • Air traffic controllers at non-FAA facilities
  • Air traffic controllers contracted by the U.S. military
  • Aircraft maintenance personnel
  • Aviation screeners
  • Flight attendants
  • Flight crews
  • Flight instructors
  • Ground security personnel
  • Commercial Motor Carriers Drug Screening
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders who operate commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs.
  • Drivers of vehicles that carry 16 or more passengers
  • Drivers who transport hazardous materials
  • The United States Coast Guard – Maritime Drug Testing
  • Crew members operating a commercial vessel
  • Pipeline Employees Drug Testing
  • Emergency response personnel
  • Operations and maintenance personnel
  • Federal Railroad Association Drug Screens
  • Engine and train personnel
  • Hours of Service Act personnel
  • Train dispatchers
  • Federal Transit Association Drug Testing
  • Armed security
  • Controllers
  • Mechanics
  • Vehicle operators

It is the tasks performed that qualify an individual as a safety-sensitive employee, not the job title. Some employees, like supervisors and managers, may not be currently performing said tasks but are still qualified for the same. They may have to be drug tested as well because at any time (during emergencies), they may be called upon to perform a safety-sensitive job.

While the Department of Transportation does not issue certifications to providers that administer the tests, all the tests must comply with Title 49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 40, which stipulates the procedural requirements in the manner by which workplace drug and alcohol testing are to be conducted in transportation industries under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Testing facilities that wish to participate in a Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing program must qualify in the National Laboratory Certification Program conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

What Drugs Are Tested For Under a DOT Test?

Alcohol – Alcohol tests can use either saliva or breath (with PAS devices) but confirmation tests must use EBT devices.

Screens for the Following Substances:

When Are DOT Drug Tests Performed?

Safety-sensitive employees are subject to drug or alcohol testing in the following situations
  • Pre-employment drug screenings
  • Reasonable suspicion drug testing
  • Random drug testing
  • Post-accident drug testing
  • return-to-duty drug screens
  • Follow-up drug screening

How is a DOT Drug Test Different From Non-DOT Drug Test?

DOT drug testing is done at laboratories certified by the Department of Health and Human Services which publishes a list of certified laboratories monthly. Non-DOT drug testing, on the other hand, is done at laboratories that are certified by either of the 2 accredited agencies, CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and CAP (College of American Pathologists).

It would be prudent for employers to verify a lab’s certification first before having them perform drug and alcohol testing on their employees. If a company needs non-DOT testing but uses a DOT-certified lab and drug test results are challenged in court, there may be legal complications.

For non-DOT drug testing programs, employers may test for a wider variety of drugs using different types of samples (saliva, hair, breath, sweat, nails).



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