Helpful Information for Employment Screening and DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing


For those of you that conduct DOT drug and alcohol tests as part of your employment screening process, we thought we would share a great document prepared by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary, entitled “What Employers Need to Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing”. We have included an excerpt from this informative document below. The full version can be view by clicking here. Also check out the important links we have added to this document and those provided as helpful links at the bottom of the page.

What specimens are collected for DOT drug and alcohol tests?

DOT drug tests are conducted only using urine specimens. DOT alcohol screening tests are conducted using either breath or saliva. DOT alcohol confirmation tests must be conducted using Evidential Breath Testing Devices (EBTs) that only analyze breath.

  • In addition to urine testing for drugs, the FRA also requires blood specimens for its Post-Accident testing.
  • The USCG [United States Coast Guard] permits collection of blood specimens for its Serious Marine Incident (SMI) testing.

Where must I have DOT urine specimens analyzed?

DOT urine specimens can only be tested at drug testing laboratories certified by the HHS. There are no “point of contact” or “instant” tests permitted by the DOT. All specimens must be urine.

For what drugs does DOT require me to test?

DOT urine specimens are analyzed for the following drugs or drug metabolites:

  • Marijuana metabolites / THC
  • Cocaine metabolites
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Amphetamines and Methamphetamine
  • Opiate metabolites [Codeine, Morphine, and Heroin]

What types of DOT tests must I conduct?

You must give employees the following kinds of tests, when called for by DOT Agency and USCG rules:

  • Pre-employment
  • Random
  • Reasonable Suspicion / Reasonable Cause
  • Post-Accident
  • Return-to-Duty
  • Follow-up

Here are explanations about each type of test:


Drug Tests: You are required to: (1) Conduct a pre-employment drug test; and (2) Receive from the MRO a negative test result on the pre-employment drug test for a person prior to hiring or prior to using that person in a safety-sensitive position for the first time. This requirement also applies when a current employee is transferring from a non-safety sensitive position to a safely-sensitive job for the first time.

Alcohol Tests: Unless you are regulated by the USCG, you may conduct pre-employment alcohol testing under DOT authority, but only if two conditions are met: (1) The pre-employment alcohol testing must be accomplished for all applicants [and transfers], not just some; and (2) The testing must be conducted as a post-offer requirement – meaning you must inform the applicant that he or she has the job if he or she passes a DOT alcohol test.

For more information on the content provided in this article and, or the organizations referenced, please use the following helpful links.

employeescreenIQ Substance Abuse Screening
Quest Diagnostics

Nick Fishman is Chief Marketing Officer for Cleveland-based employeescreenIQ, a best practices provider of pre-employment screening services throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Nick can be reached