DOT Drug Testing

Considering a job with the Department of Transportation (DOT) or in the aviation, trucking, railroad, mass transit, pipeline or maritime industries? Here's everything you need to know about their drug testing policy

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DOT Drug Testing

Considering a job with the Department of Transportation (DOT) or in the aviation, trucking, railroad, mass transit, pipeline or maritime industries? Here's everything you need to know about their drug testing policy


The Department of Transportation (DOT) employs over 57,000 people in the US. You may also be subject to DOT rules if you work in the aviation, trucking, railroad, mass transit, pipeline or maritime industries. If you're wondering how these jobs drug test, you can find all the details here. It's a lot to read and we've summed up the details in this article.

How does DOT drug test?

DOT relies on urine samples for drug testing and requires that samples be sent to a lab for analysis. Alcohol testing relies on breath or saliva testing with an approved alcohol testing device. If you work for the railroad and are involved in a job-related accident, blood may be drawn to test for drugs and alcohol.

When does DOT require drug screening?

It's very likely that you will face a pre-employment drug screen. Alcohol testing is an optional component, but obviously you shouldn't drink before your drug test. DOT also requires random drug tests unless your employer is under 15 employees. If you are involved in a job-related accident, you should expect a drug test. If your supervisor suspects you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may have to submit to a drug test. You will likely face a drug test if changing positions or returning to work from a prior failed or refused drug test. DOT rules are in place to reduce the chances of accidents that can often be fatal. As an employee in the transportation industry, you should be prepared for a drug test at any time.

What drugs does DOT test for?

You can expect to be tested for the following drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids (Codeine, morphine, heroin, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, and Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)

If you work for the railroad, the labs often test for a much longer list.

Can I refuse a drug test?

Like most employers, DOT considers refusal to take a test the same as a failed drug test. However, DOT also considers adulteration and substitution as refusal. If you refuse a drug test, your employer is required to immediately remove you from any safety-sensitive job functions. You can expect to face the same consequences as failing a drug test.

What happens if I fail a drug test?

If your failed test is not the result of a job-related accident, failing a drug test will require being removed from safety-sensitive job functions. If you aren't dismissed from your job, you will need to be evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), complete any SAP-recommended course(s), undergo a follow-up evaluation, and successfully complete a follow-up drug test. You will also need to take at least 6 random drug tests under direct observation over a period of 12 months.