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What drugs does the DOT test for?
DOT drug tests are conducted only using urine specimens. The urnie specimens are analyzed for the following drugs/metabolites:

  • Marijuana metabolites/THC - Cocaine metabolites
  • Ampohedamines (including methamphetamine, MDMA)
  • Opiaes (including codeine, heroin (6-AM, morphine - Phencyclidine (PCP)

When will I be tested?

  • Safety-sensitive employees are subject to drug or alcohol testing the the following situation:
  • Pre-employment
  • Reasonable Suspicion/Cause - Random
  • Return-to-duty
  • Follow-up
  • Post-accident

How would a patient describe you?
As a new hire, you are required to submit to a drug test. Employers may, but are note required to, conduct alcohol testing. Only after your employer receives a negative drug test result (and negative alcohol test result - if administered) may you begin safety-sensitive functions. This also applies if you are a current employee transferring from a non safety-sensitive function into a safety-sensitive position (even if it is the same employer).

Reasonable Suspicion/Cause
You are required to submit to any test (whether drug, alcohol or both) that a supervisor requests based on reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion means that one or more trained supervisors reasonably believes or suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They cannot require testing based on a hunch or guess alone; their suspicion must be based on observations concerning your appearance, behavior, speech and smell that are usually associated with drug or alcohol use.

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You are subject to unannounced random drug & alcohol testing. Alcohol testing is administered just prior to, during or just after performing safety-sensitive functions. Depending on the industry specific regulations, you may be subject to random testing.

No manager, supervisor, official or agent may select you for testing just because they want to. Under DOT regulations, employers must use a truly random selection process. Each employer must have an equal chance to be selected and tested.

Just prior to the testing event, you will be notified of your selection and provided enough time to stop performing your safety-sensitive function and report to the testing location. Failure to show for a test or interfering with the test process can be considered a refusal.

If you are involved in an event (accident, crash, etc.) meeting certain criteria of the DOT agency, a post-accident test will be required. You will then have to take a drug test and an alcohol test. You are required to remain available for this testing and are not permitted to refuse testing.

If you have violated the prohibited drug & alcohol rules, you are required to take a drug and/or alcohol test before returning to safety-sensitive functions for any DOT regulated employer. Your are subject to unannounced follow-up testing at least 6 times in the first 12 months following your return to active safety-sensitive service. Return-to-duty tests must be conducted under direct observation.

The amount of follow-up testing you receive is determined by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and may continue for up to 5 years. This means the SAP will determine how many times you will be tested (at least 6 times in the first year), for how long, and for what substance (i.e., drugs, alcohol or both). Your employer is responsible for ensuring that follow-up testing is conducted and completed. Follow-up testing is in addition to all other DOT required testing. All follow-up tests will be observed.

How is urine drug test administered?
Regardless of the DOT agency requiring the drug test, the drug testing process always consists of three components:

  • The Collection. (49 CFR Part 40, Subparts C, D, E)

  • Testing at the Laboratory. (49 CFR Part 40, Subpart F)

  • Review by the Medical Review Officer. (49 CFR Part 40, Subpart G)

Should I refuse a test if I believe I was unfairly selected for testing?
Rule of Thumb: Comply then make a timely complaint

If you are instructed to submit to a DOT drug or alcohol test and you don't agree with the reason or rationale for the test, take the test anyway. Don't interfere with the testing process or refuse the test.

After the test, express your concerns to your employer through a letter to your company's dispute resolution office, by following an agreed upon labor grievance or other company procedure. You can also express your concerns to the appropriate DOT agency drug & alcohol program office. Whomever you decide to contact, please contact them as soon as possible after the test.

What is considered a refusal to test?
DOT regulations prohibit you from refusing a test. The following are some examples of conduct that the regulators define as a refusal to test (see 49 CFR Part 40, Subpart I & Subpart N):

  • Failure to appear for any test after being directed to do so by your employer.

  • Failure to remain at the testing site until the testing process is complete.

  • Failure to provide a urine or breath samples for any test required by federal regulations.

  • Failure to permit the observation or monitoring of you providing a urine sample. (Please note tests conducted under direct observation or monitoring occur in limited situations. The majority of specimens are provided in private.)

  • Failure to provide sufficient urine or breath sample when directed and it has been determined, through a required medical evaluation, that there was not adequate medical explanation for failure.

  • Failure to take a second test when directed to do so.

  • Failure to cooperate with any part of the testing process.

  • Failure to undergo a medical evaluation as part of "shy bladder" or "shy lung" procedures.

  • Failure to sign Step #2 of the ATF.

  • Providing a specimen that is verified as adulterated or substituted.

  • Failure to cooperate with any part of the testing process (e.g., refuse to empty pockets when directed by the collector, behave in a confrontational way that disrupts the collection process, fail to wash hands after being directed to do so by the collector.

  • Failure to follow the observer's instructions (during a direct observation collection) to raise your clothing above the waste, lower clothing and underpants, and to turn around to permit the observer to determine if you have any type of prosthetic or other device that could be used to interfere with the collection process.

  • Possess or wear a prosthetic or other device that could be used to interfere with the collection process.

  • Admit to the collector or MRO that you adulterated or substituted the specimen.

Department of Transportation (DOT) Drug Testing Q&A's