A white 18-wheeler truck speeds along the highway in El Paso to deliver goods across the country. 
DOT Testing | El Paso

Why Every Trucking Company Requires DOT Drug Tests

Keeping the roads safe is a top priority for federal, state, and local governments, as well as private companies that make their living transporting goods. For trucking companies, ensuring the safety of their drivers and other motorists is one of their bigger responsibilities. So to remain in compliance and in accordance with safety measures, trucking companies require DOT drug tests. 

Here’s what you need to know about DOT testing and why it’s so important. 

If your trucking company needs help staying in compliance with regulations, call Border Trucking Compliance for guidance. 

What is DOT Testing? 

The Department of Transportation was created in 1966. This government entity was established by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The mission of the Department of Transportation is to develop policies that relate to the country’s transportation system. Their main responsibilities include developing safety regulations and overseeing federal transportation projects. The DOT updates compliance standards every so often as situations and circumstances change in the industry

Each state also has its department of transportation. These entities are at the center of the planning, design, and construction of state projects. State DOTs are responsible for allocating federal resources from grants and other Federal-aid programs. 

Both of these entities work together to determine various kinds of regulations and requirements.  Based on recommendations and regulations of both of these departments, private trucking companies implement DOT testing. Many companies can also implement additional testing if they so choose. 

Why Does DOT Require Testing? 

In 1991, the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act was passed by Congress. The Act was a result of several transportation accidents. Authorities recognized that having drug and alcohol-free employees in the transportation sector was vital. This law required the various DOT agencies and state agencies to submit testing. This included workers in the aviation and trucking industries as well as school bus drivers, van, or limousine drivers. 

Workers across these industries are required to test: 

  • Federal Aviation Administration: Flight crews, attendants, dispatchers, and security coordinators. 
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Workers with a commercial drivers license who operate commercial vehicles, or vehicles that hold more than 16 passengers.
  • U.S. Coast Guard: Crew members in the U.S. coast guard. 
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: Operators and maintenance workers.
  • Federal Railroad Administration: Train workers, train dispatches, etc. 
  • Federal Transit Administration: Workers involved in vehicle operations, control, mechanics, and security. 

What Should You Expect From DOT Drug Testing?

DOT requires that drivers with a CDL get tested when starting new employment and then once a year. Here’s what you should know about what to expect from these drug tests. 

  • Before employment. If you are about to start driving with a new company, you will be required to submit a drug test. 
  • Throughout the year. Truck carriers or companies will usually be required to test their staff randomly once a year. Random drug tests are an important part of the DOT regulations. 
  • Following an accident. If an accident occurs, truck companies are required to perform a drug test as well. DOT requirements might enforce an automatic drug test if a driver gets into an accident or has trouble on the road. It depends on the situation. Many companies, however, will have the driver submit a drug test automatically for insurance purposes. 
  • Follow-up testing. When a driver returns to duty after time off, they will be required to submit follow-up testing, often allied return-to-duty testing. If a driver previously tested positive and is attempting to return to work, the procedures will be a little different.

What Does the DOT Drug Test Look For? 

The drug test administered by DOT requirements is a 5-panel urine test. This 5-panel test is the absolute minimum required to be compliant with DOT standards but companies can include additional testing. The common test looks for traces of: 

  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines (Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, MDA)
  • Opioids
    • Codeine
    • Morphine
    • Heroin
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone 
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

What Happens if You Fail a DOT Drug Test? 

When a driver fails a DOT drug test, the Department of Transportation requires companies to remove the employee from performing any job considered a DOT safety-sensitive job. 

Some prescription drugs cause a false positive. If a driver tests positive and they consider it is due to prescription drugs, they will likely have to test again and then show proof of their prescriptions. 

Why Are These Tests So Important? 

The U.S. Department of Transportation and other state DOTs consider driver testing a top priority. Drug testing is essential to maintain safety for the driver and other motorists on the road. By aiming to eliminate the use of debilitating substances in commercial drivers, DOT aims to minimize accidents. While the U.S. Department of Transportation has its own requirements for drug testing, private companies can implement additional testing as well. 

Learn More About DOT Testing Requirements 

At Border Trucking Compliance, we specialize in helping trucking companies ensure their compliance with federal and state regulations. We provide comprehensive compliance services to ensure that companies don’t run into legal trouble by failing to follow directives on drug testing and other requirements. 

Want to learn more about how we help trucking companies? Call Border Trucking Compliance today. 

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