|Explore the 25 most misunderstood DOT drug testing rules in 2024, including pre-employment, random, post accident, and reasonable suspicion testing.👇
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DOT Drug Testing Regulations
As a flight attendant, do you know which over-the-counter (OTC) drugs you are not allowed to use while working as an FAA employee?
Did you know the FRA requires a blood specimen as part of their post-accident DOT drug testing?
Or, do you live in a state in which cannabis is legal?
The Department of Transportation alcohol and drug regulations are primarily contained in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 40, and parts 382-655, depending on the specific transportation industry.
We carefully read the entire CFR as well as the new CDL drug testing requirements for 2024, so we could create this list of DOT drug screen testing rules you may not even be aware of. 🤔
DOT Alcohol Consumption Limits
If a CDL driver receives a DUI in a personal vehicle while off-duty, does the driver need to complete the SAP return-to-duty program?
No, a DUI in a personal vehicle, off-duty, is NOT a violation of FMCSA’s 49 CFR Part 382 and does NOT require the CDL driver to complete a SAP return-to-duty process.
What are the DOT rules for consuming alcohol?
Employees assigned to perform safety-sensitive functions must not use or possess alcohol while assigned to or actually performing safety-sensitive functions.
You must not report for service nor remain on duty if under the influence of alcohol or if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.
Furthermore, you must not consume alcohol within 4 hours of reporting for service (or within 8 hours for flight crew members and flight attendants).
DOT Prescription Drug Regulations
Are employees allowed to use prescribed controlled substances while performing safety-sensitive functions?
Employees must not report for duty or remain on duty when using any controlled substance unless it is used according to the instructions of an authorized medical practitioner.
Also, the prescribing physician must have made a good faith judgment that the use and dosage level of the prescribed substance is consistent with the safe performance of your duties.
What if I have prescriptions for controlled substances from different physicians?
If you are being treated by more than one doctor, you must be able to show that at least one prescribing doctor has been informed of all prescribed medications (and OTC medicines) and has determined the usage is consistent with the safe performance of your duties.
Do some agencies have regulations prohibiting the use of specific prescription drugs?
Yes, some prescription drugs and OTC medications are prohibited, so you must review your industry-specific regulations and/or refer to your specific company’s policy regarding prescribed drugs.
DOT Drug Testing Regulations
What substances are detected in a DOT drug test?
DOT drug tests are conducted using urine specimens, and they test for marijuana metabolites, cocaine metabolites, amphetamines (including methamphetamine and MDMA), opioids (such as codeine, heroin, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone), and phencyclidine (PCP).
What types of specimens are collected for DOT drug and alcohol testing?
How far back does a DOT drug test go?
The detection window varies depending on the drug: Marijuana can be detected for up to 3 days after one-time use and up to 30 days for chronic users. Amphetamines typically remain detectable for two to three days, cocaine for 1.5 days after one-time use and up to three days for regular users, and opioids can be detected between two to five days, depending on the specific substance.
What does 49 CFR Part 40 mean?
49 CFR Part 40 refers to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Part 40. It is a set of regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that governs drug and alcohol testing for employees in the transportation industry. These regulations apply to various transportation modes, including aviation, trucking, railroads, pipelines, and maritime.
DOT Medical Marijuana Regulations
Is using medical marijuana allowed under DOT regulations?
No, while some states may allow medical or recreational use of marijuana, federal laws and DOT regulations do not recognize any legitimate medical use of marijuana.
Under DOT regulations, the use of marijuana is treated as the use of any other illicit drug, regardless of state laws.
Will Delta 8 show up in drug test?
Yes, Delta 8 THC can potentially show up in a drug test as it is a form of THC. A DOT drug test will screen for the presence of cannabinoids of any kind and would definitely detect delta-8 THC, because it’s a cannabinoid.
What’s the difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9?
Delta 8 and Delta 9 are two different types of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) compounds found in cannabis.
Delta 8 THC is a less potent and less psychoactive form compared to Delta 9 THC.
Delta 9 THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the “high” effect.
Delta 8 THC is created using chemically synthesized cannabinoids that are, often, entirely untested and unregulated.
How long does Delta 8 stay in urine?
Delta 8 THC can generally be detected in urine for up to 3-7 days after use. However, the detection window may vary depending on various factors such as frequency of use, dosage, metabolism, and individual differences. It’s important to note that drug detection times can vary and this is just a general guideline.
Why DOT Drug Testing Occurs
For safety-sensitive employees, staying informed about the different scenarios under which DOT drug testing is mandated is crucial.
A positive drug test result, an alcohol concentration of .04 or more or a drug test refusal requires the driver to be immediately removed from operating any commercial vehicle. The employer must provide the driver with a list of DOT authorized SAPs from which to choose to begin the DOT SAP return-to-duty program.
Also, we’ll look into the obligations and responsibilities of employees during the FMCSA drug and alcohol policy scenarios per the CFR.
DOT Pre Employment Drug Testing
What is pre-employment testing and when is it required?
Pre-employment testing is required for new hires or employees transferring from a non-safety-sensitive position to a safety-sensitive position. The process involves submitting to a drug test (and alcohol test, if requested by employer).
An employee can only begin performing safety-sensitive functions after the employer receives a negative drug test result (and a negative alcohol test result, if administered).
DOT Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing
Can an employee be tested based on reasonable suspicion or cause?
Yes, a DOT employee can be tested based on reasonable suspicion or cause when one or more trained supervisors reasonably believe that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
This suspicion must be based on observations concerning the employee’s appearance, behavior, speech, and smell that are usually associated with drug or alcohol use. A hunch or guess is NOT sufficient to require testing.
DOT Random Drug Testing
What are the rules for random drug and alcohol testing at work?
Random drug and alcohol testing is unannounced and can occur just prior to, during, or just after performing safety-sensitive functions.
Under DOT regulations, the selection process for random testing must be truly random, ensuring that each employee has an equal chance of being selected.
Employees are notified just before the testing event and must promptly report to the testing location.
Can a supervisor or manager select an individual for random testing based on a personal bias?
No, a manager, supervisor, official or agent may not select an individual for testing based on personal preference.
The selection process for random testing must be truly random, ensuring that each employee has an equal chance to be selected and tested.
How often does a DOT random drug test occur?
The frequency of DOT random drug testing varies depending on the specific regulations of the Department of Transportation (DOT) agency.
However, on average, DOT random drug tests are conducted at a rate of 25% for drug testing and 10% for alcohol testing annually.
DOT Post Accident Drug Testing
What happens if you are involved in an accident while performing safety-sensitive functions?
If an employee is involved in an accident or event that meets certain criteria set by the DOT agency, a post-accident drug and alcohol test will be required.
The employee is obligated to remain available for this testing and is not permitted to refuse it.
What is different about post-accident testing in the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)?
In post-accident testing, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires a blood specimen for drug testing in addition to the standard drug and alcohol testing.
Refusing DOT Drug Testing
What is considered a refusal to undergo drug testing under DOT regulations?
A refusal to undergo drug testing under DOT regulations includes the following scenarios:
1. Failure to appear for the test after being directed to do so.
2. Not staying at the testing site until the testing process is complete.
3. Not providing a urine sample for the test.
4. Not allowing observation or monitoring while providing a urine sample in certain cases.
5. Providing an adulterated or substituted specimen.
6. Not cooperating with any part of the testing process, such as emptying pockets when directed.
7. Possessing or wearing a prosthetic or other device that could interfere with the collection process.
8. Admitting to adulterating or substituting the specimen.
Refusing DOT Alcohol Testing
What is considered a refusal to undergo alcohol testing under DOT regulations?
A refusal to undergo alcohol testing under DOT regulations includes:
1. Failure to appear for the test when directed.
2. Failure to stay at the testing site until the testing process is complete.
3. Failure to sign Step #2 of the ATF (Alcohol Testing Form).
4. Failure to provide a breath sample for the test.
5. Not providing a sufficient breath sample and lacking a valid medical explanation.
6. Not undergoing a medical evaluation as part of “shy lung” procedures.
7. Not cooperating with any part of the testing process.
What are the consequences if I test positive, refuse a test, or violate an agency-specific drug and alcohol rule under DOT regulations?
If you test positive, refuse a test, or violate an agency-specific drug and alcohol rule:
1. You will be immediately removed from DOT-regulated safety-sensitive functions.
2. You cannot return to performing DOT-regulated safety-sensitive duties until you have undergone an evaluation by a 3. Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), completed any education, counseling, or treatment prescribed by the SAP, and provided a negative test result for drugs and/or a test result of less than 0.02 for alcohol.
4. Upon return, you will be subject to unannounced testing for drugs and/or alcohol no less than 6 times during the first 12 months, with the possibility of continued unannounced testing for up to 60 months, as prescribed by the SAP.
Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
How can a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) help someone who tests positive or refuses to take a DOT drug or alcohol test?
A SAP will perform an in-person evaluation with the employee to determine the severity drug and/or alcohol-related issues. The SAP will then prescribe education, counseling, or treatment as necessary.
The employee cannot return to DOT-regulated safety-sensitive duties until they have successfully completed the prescribed intervention and provided a negative test result for drugs or alcohol.
How can I find a SAP counselor near me?
How much does the SAP return-to-duty program cost?
The cost of the SAP (Substance Abuse Professional) return-to-duty program can vary depending on various factors such as the location, duration of the program, and specific violations of the individual.
Contact a local DOT authorized SAP provider to get accurate pricing information for the return-to-duty program.
Failed DOT Drug Test
Will an employee automatically lose their job if they violate DOT drug and alcohol regulations?
DOT regulations do not specify employment actions such as hiring, firing, or granting leaves of absence – these decisions may depend on company policy or employment agreements.
However, employers are required to immediately remove employees from performing DOT safety-sensitive jobs if they violate drug and alcohol regulations.
Are Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) advocates for the employee or the employer?
Neither. SAPs are not advocates for the employee nor the employer. SAPs make return-to-duty recommendations based on their professional and ethical standards.
If a pilot violates DOT drug and alcohol regulations, who must approve their return to duty?
For pilots, even if a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) believes the pilot is ready to return to duty, the SAP cannot return a pilot to duty without the prior approval of the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon.
Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) play a critical role in the DOT’s drug screen testing program.
Understanding their role, qualifications, and the limitations of their authority can help both employers and employees navigate the complexities of drug and alcohol violations in DOT-regulated safety-sensitive positions, particularly FMCSA drug testing regulations.
It’s important to recognize that while SAPs are integral to the evaluation process, they do not serve as advocates for either party, and reinstatement decisions ultimately lie in the hands of employers and, in the case of pilots, the FAA.
If you have questions about DOT regulations, contact the drug and alcohol abatement offices listed in the chart below.
|US Department of Transportation
|US Department of Homeland Security
|If you failed a drug test and need to find a DOT qualified SAP near you, search SAPList using your local zip code or schedule a SAP evaluation online by clicking appointment or click-to-call 817-781-7235 to speak with a SAP counselor in Texas. 👨💻