Basics of DOT drug testing requirements for 2020


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As an employer, you need to stay compliant with the federal regulation as well as your state law. This is especially important if you are a Department of Transport (DOT), a regulated employer. So, what is a DOT random drug testing?

The DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all employees with a commercial driving license to undergo the DOT drug testing procedure.

So, who all need to undergo DOT random drug testing?

Along with anyone with commercial driver’s license who drive commercial vehicles on public roads, interstate motor carrier, and intrastate motor carrier drivers also need to get the DOT drug testing done. Individuals who drive a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 26,011 pounds need to undergo the testing. Drivers of vehicles that transport 16 or more occupants (including the driver) come under the testing category. 

The minimum annual percentage rate for DOT random drug testing

As announced in December 2019 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing increased from 25 percent to 50 percent of the average number of driver positions. At the same time, the minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing is 10 percent.

Why a DOT drug test is important?

Broadly speaking, there are five reasons why a DOT drug test might be asked by a federal authority. These include:

  • Post-accident
  • Pre-employment
  • Random test to check
  • Return to duty
  • Reasonable suspicion

What are the substances tested in a DOT drug test?

In a DOT urine test, the following drugs are probed for. These include:

  • Opiates that include opium and codeine derivates
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamines
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Note, the test does not include any prescription drugs like oxycodone or hydrocodone which are also derivative opiates.

What happens when an employee refuses to undergo a test or fails in DOT drug testing?

  • If you’re a job applicant and refuse to undergo a DOT drug testing or if you test positive, you will be denied to perform any safety-sensitive duties. 
  • If you’re an existing employee and test positive during random testing, you may be refused to return to employment that involves safety-sensitive duties. To resume your duty, you need to see a substance abuse professional and pass the mandatory return to duty drug testing. 

Things to remember if you’re a DOT-regulated employer

  • You should be complying with all the types of drug testing and training requirements.
  • If you’re facing challenges in conducting a DOT testing or training required due to the ongoing COVID-19 situations, then you should comply with the existing DOT Agency requirement. You should also document the reason for not completing the test.
  • The existing regulation model needs to be continued in case an employer is not able to conduct a DOT random drug test due to the unavailability of testing resources.
  • You should be checking with the applicable DOT agency requirements about the flexibility to collect samples at a later date given the present public health risks due to COVID – 19.
  • You should be communicating regularly with the testing agency to understand the availability of the resources or capability support to conduct your DOT testing.
  • While employers should be evaluating the circumstances of the employees for undergoing the DOT test, however, under the COVID-19 senior DOT recommends employers to be sensitive to their employees who might refuse to go to a clinic for testing. 

Things to know if you’re a DOT regulated employee

  • Contact your medical provider and inform your employer if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Remember, the onus lies with the employer to determine if the refusal to test by the employee should be considered as per 49 CFR § 40.355.

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