What Are DOT Requirements For Drug Testing?

Performing a DOT drug test involves specific procedures and protocols to ensure accuracy, confidentiality, and compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, the most important requirement is proper training to conduct drug and alcohol testing.

Here are the key requirements for conducting a DOT-regulated drug test:

  1. Collection Site:

    • The collection site must be secure and private. It should be equipped to prevent tampering with specimens.
    • Ensure there is a facility for washing hands, and the person being tested must show that they have nothing on them that could alter the sample.
    • The same applies to specimen collectors who conduct mobile drug testing.
  2. Qualified Personnel:

    • Only a trained and qualified collector can handle and oversee the collection process. The collector must understand the current federal drug testing regulations and guidelines.
  3. Chain of Custody Form (CCF):

    • A CCF is required for every sample. This document tracks the specimen by documenting every step from collection to laboratory testing, ensuring no tampering has occurred.
  4. Collection Procedure:

    • The tested employee must provide a specific amount of urine in a collection container.
    • The collector checks the specimen for temperature and signs of tampering shortly after collection.
    • The specimen is then poured into two bottles (A and B) and sealed.
  5. Laboratory Testing:

    • Only Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certified laboratories can test DOT drug samples.
    • The initial test is an immunoassay. A confirmation Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) test is performed if this test is positive.
  6. Tested Substances:

    • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates testing for these five classes of drugs to ensure the safety and well-being of the traveling public and employees engaged in safety-sensitive positions within the transportation industry. Here's a breakdown of why each class of drug is included:
      • Marijuana:

        • Effects: Marijuana can impair motor coordination, judgment, and reaction times.
        • Relevance: Employees under the influence of marijuana can pose significant safety risks in transportation settings, potentially causing accidents due to delayed decision-making or misjudgment of situations.
      • Cocaine:

        • Effects: Cocaine is a stimulant that can lead to euphoria, increased energy, alertness, and sensitivity to stimuli. However, it can also lead to paranoia, unpredictability, and impaired judgment.
        • Relevance: The erratic behavior and altered judgment due to cocaine can be hazardous in safety-sensitive roles. Its short-lived effects can also lead to sudden crashes in energy, which can be problematic for tasks requiring consistent alertness.
      • Amphetamines (including methamphetamines):

        • Effects: These stimulant drugs can increase focus and energy in the short term but can also lead to agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, and dangerous risk-taking behavior.
        • Relevance: While some people misuse amphetamines to stay awake and alert, the potential side effects, including erratic behavior and poor decision-making, can compromise safety in transportation environments.
      • Opiates (like heroin and certain prescription narcotics):

        • Effects: Opiates depress the central nervous system. They can lead to drowsiness, impaired cognitive function, slowed reaction times, and respiratory depression.
        • Relevance: The sedative effects of opiates are especially concerning in transportation sectors, where a lapse in attention or slowed reaction can have catastrophic consequences.
      • Phencyclidine (PCP):

        • Effects: PCP is a hallucinogenic drug that can lead to distorted perceptions of reality, hallucinations, and aggressive or violent behavior. It can also result in numbness, slurred speech, and a sense of detachment.
        • Relevance: The severe cognitive distortions and potential for violent behavior under the influence of PCP make it incredibly risky in any setting, especially in safety-sensitive roles.
  7. Medical Review Officer (MRO) Involvement:

    • Once the laboratory completes testing, the results are sent to an MRO. The MRO reviews the results, ensuring that legal or prescribed drug use hasn't caused any positive results.
    • If a test is non-negative (positive), the MRO contacts the employee to discuss the result before reporting it to the employer, giving the employee a chance to provide any relevant medical information.
  8. Record Keeping:

    • Employers must maintain records of their drug and alcohol testing program, including test results, for a period determined by DOT regulations.
  9. Confidentiality:

    • Test results and related information should be kept confidential and only released to those who need it to perform their duties.
  10. Employee Rights:

    • If an employee tests positive, they can request a retest of the split specimen (Bottle B) at a different SAMHSA-certified laboratory.
  11. Return-to-duty Process:

    • If an employee has a verified positive test or refuses to test, they need to see a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and complete the return-to-duty process, which includes an evaluation, possibly education or treatment, a return-to-duty test, and follow-up tests.

By adhering to DOT drug testing requirements, employers reinforce the integrity and trustworthiness of the testing process, underscoring their dedication to safety in the workplace,

  • Answered by:
  • Published: 08/10/2023
  • Updated: 08/10/2023
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