Since 1991, the United States has executed drug testing for the transportation industry as a means of maintaining the welfare of all traveling working public. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates a law passed by Congress named Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act.  This act warrants and grants the need for a drug and alcohol-free transportation industry. The DOT drug test is implemented by organizations with safety-sensitive employees. But, which type of drug test does DOT use?

Keep reading to learn more about DOT drug testing.

DOT Drug Testing: What Does it Entail

DOT drug testing uses the 5-panel screening test which tests for the following substances:

  • Marijuana metabolites/THC
  • Cocaine metabolites
  • Amphetamines (including methamphetamine, and MDMA)
  • Opioids* (including codeine, heroin (6-AM), morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Although a 5-panel drug screening can be conducted via hair follicle or blood analysis, the DOT-regulated drug tests only examine urine samples. The process is meticulous in that no rapid, instant, or point-of-contact testing is permitted. Only an HHS-certified lab is allowed to conduct the drug exam. 

Nevertheless, the Federal Register published a notice in 2022 that proposes the addition of a new way to test for drug use. This test opts for oral fluid instead of urine samples. DOT states

“This will give employers a choice that will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a more economical, less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the program.”

The revision of its existing drug and alcohol testing rules in 49 CFR Part 40 is still underway. This means the expansion of DOT drug testing to include oral fluids has not been officialized. 

What’s The Deal With Recreational Marijuana?

In recent years, various states across the country have passed programs permitting the use of recreational marijuana. While the use of cannabis can be legal for public citizens, it remains prohibited for several professions. These professions include commercial vehicle drivers, locomotive engineers, dispatchers, signalmen, flight crew members, and air traffic controllers. 

Because marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug of the Controlled Substances Act, certain professionals are still bound by the DOT regulations. For instance, people with jobs that require caution, like driving big trucks or operating machines, must abide by the DOT’s safety rules.

The DOT’s Statement

The U.S. Department of Transportation shares openly, “We want to assure the traveling public that our transportation system is the safest it can possibly be.” 

This statement, however, was published in 2017. Many things regarding THC use have developed since. For one, the White House Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that previous marijuana usage doesn’t exclude someone from government work. 

What is a Non DOT Drug Test?

Is a Non DOT drug test different from a DOT drug test? Typically, non-regulated DOT drug and alcohol screening tests involve ungoverned job sectors with positions that aren’t considered safety-sensitive. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the following industries:

  • Federal Aviation Administration: Flight crews, flight attendants, aircraft dispatchers, ground security coordinators, etc.
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders who operate Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), vehicles that carry 16 passengers or more (including the driver), or vehicles that transport hazardous materials and are required to display a DOT placard.
  • U.S. Coast Guard: Crew members operating a commercial vessel.
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: Operations, maintenance, and emergency response workers.
  • Federal Railroad Administration: Hours of Service Act personnel, engine & train workers, signal service workers, or train dispatchers.
  • Federal Transit Administration: Vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics, and armed security.

Employers who don’t fall within this category commonly implement non-DOT panel testing. They do so as a way to create a drug-free workplace environment with professional standards and workplace integrity.

A non-DOT drug test can include urine, saliva, or hair samples, as well as a breathalyzer test. However, the chosen method depends on what the employer is screening for. For instance, non-DOT drug tests can screen for Benzodiazepines, Quaaludes, and Barbiturates, in addition to the 5 standard drugs (Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opioids, and PCP).

Choose Soteria for a Safer Workspace

With over 14 million substance abusers worldwide, ensuring the integrity and safety of a workplace is made easy with Soteria Screening Laboratories. Visit our website to find a collection center that can take care of your specific drug testing needs.

Skip to content