What is DOT drug testing?
The DOT drug test of the Department of Transportation is a basic requirement for pre-employment and ongoing employment for key agencies under the DOT banner. The DOT drug testing follows the guidelines adopted from the drug and alcohol regulations as stated by the 1991 Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act.
How is DOT drug testing performed?
The DOT drug test follows strict procedures as specified by rule 49 CFR Part 40. These procedures state that drug testing complies with “chain of custody” regulations, a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certified lab conducts the analysis, and a Medical Review Officer (MRO) conducts a final review to ensure reliability and accuracy of the results.
“Chain of custody” regulations refer to the process of documenting, managing, and storing the specimen from when the donor hands it over until the final drug test result is reported. As the specimen is transported from one person to another during the process, relevant information such as packaging type and seals on the specimen bottles is documented throughout the whole process. Chain of custody documentation ensures integrity of the specimen, thus assuring the donor proper handling has been followed as specified in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs.
What do they test for in a DOT drug test?
Workers are tested for the following substances in a DOT drug test:
- 6-Acetylmorphine or metabolic heroin
- Opiates including opium, codeine and morphine derivatives
- Marijuana (THC)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
Who are required to take DOT drug testing?
- Employees of agencies under the DOT banner
- These agencies include the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Transit Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Maritime Administration, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, and the Surface Transportation Board.
- Future employees of companies under DOT agencies
Companies that are under the above DOT agencies require their future employees to undergo DOT drug testing before official hiring to ensure that they are drug-free.
- Employees of DOT agencies that are suspected drug users
Employers and supervisors who have reasonable suspicion that an employee is under the influence of drugs can have the employee undergo DOT drug testing.
- Employees involved in an incident or accident
Employees involved in an accident or incident that matches threshold requirements will have to undergo drug testing. This is to determine if the employee was under the influence during the incident.
- Employees that are randomly selected
Drug testing will also be undertaken if an employee is randomly selected during the duration of their employment, especially if they are performing safety-sensitive work.
- Employees under the Return to Duty and Follow up testing requirements
Employees who have failed a DOT drug test undergo Return to Duty testing before they are allowed to return to their jobs. Those who pass the Return to Duty test are still required to undergo a number of random ‘Follow Up’ tests for up to five years in order to maintain employment.
What are the consequences of a failed DOT drug test?
An employee who fails a DOT drug test will be immediately removed from active duty. The employer will also refer the employee to an accredited Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for evaluation. The SAP will also identify a substance abuse program that the employee will be required to participate in for treatment. After successfully completing the program, the employee will then be evaluated if fit to return to service. Passing a Return to Duty test will be required before official reinstatement, and follow up drug testing will be conducted randomly after returning to work.