US Drug Test Centers Blog

CDL Drug Test for Drivers in the DOT

Posted: Oct 02 2023

By: Marquisha Blanche

All CDL drivers working for the Department of Transportation (DOT) are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing considering they operate in a safety-sensitive function. But what exactly does this look like for employers and owner-operators?

In this blog, we'll talk about what a CDL drug test screens for, under what conditions the DOT conducts an alcohol or drug test, and what happens when there are drug and alcohol violations.

We'll also share how partnering with a testing company can make it easier than ever to stay compliant!

What is a Commercial Driver's License?

A commercial driver's license (CDL) allows an individual to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). There is both skill and knowledge testing involved in obtaining a CDL. These drivers are also held to a much higher standard being behind the wheel. Traffic violations might mean that they can't keep their license.

Through a CMV driver test, drivers get licensed in their home state and might need extra endorsements if the vehicle is a truck with double or triple trailers or a tank or if it carries hazardous materials. Special endorsements might also be necessary for passenger vehicles.

Drivers can only be licensed in one state. It's actually illegal to hold a license in multiple states!

What Do DOT Drug and Alcohol Tests Screen for?

A DOT drug test screens for five specific substances: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines. Under the amphetamines category, methamphetamines and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) will also be screened for.

What Specimens are Collected for DOT Drug Tests?

For a DOT drug test, urine tests, specifically, are used. However, instant urine testing is not authorized.

For alcohol tests, the collector can analyze the breath or saliva for the initial testing, and breath for confirmation.

train on the tracks at sunset

When Do Employers Conduct Drug and Alcohol Testing?

There are a few specific times when a DOT employer might require a drug or alcohol test.

Pre-employment Drug Test

Before hiring truck drivers to perform safety-sensitive functions, an employer is required to conduct pre-employment drug testing.

This is usually done with a simple DOT urine test, which will screen for the previously mentioned controlled substances.

Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test

If an employer suspects that a CDL driver is impaired, they may ask them to get drug tested after further investigation. "Reasonable suspicion" might include the observance of slurred speech, body odors, or difficulty walking.

An important part of training your staff is to help them recognize the signs of impairment and when it might be necessary for a driver to get tested.

Post-Accident Drug Test

Post-accident drug and alcohol tests are important to rule out the involvement of substance abuse in the case of a CDL driver experiencing a collision of any sort. Completion of a DOT urine drug screen is required within 32 hours of a CMV accident and alcohol within eight hours of the accident.

Return-to-Duty Test

When CDL drivers get a positive test result after having an accident (or while completing any other type of DOT testing such as pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, etc.), they'll be required to test negative for controlled substances before they can return to duty in a safety-sensitive position.

The return-to-duty process ensures that the safety-sensitive driver is once again fit to operate commercial motor vehicles and will (hopefully) meet drug testing requirements in the future.

A positive result from follow-up tests could result in further suspension and even the loss of licensing.

Random Drug Test

Random drug tests are managed through a DOT random consortium. Any driver holding a CDL and operating in a DOT safety-sensitive position, and any owner-operator CDL drivers, are required to be enrolled in a DOT random testing consortium program.

A random testing selection pool includes selections from multiple companies and their employees. Random testing rates are applied, and the rates vary by agency and substance (drugs versus alcohol).

These pools ensure that drivers are truly being randomly tested and that there is no bias involved when it comes to selecting individuals.

Random tests for trucking companies, truck drivers, and other CDL drivers in the transportation industry are important to stay compliant and avoid hefty fines.

truck driver using GPS

How Can DOT Employers Keep Their CDL Drivers Drug-Free?

Alcohol and drug tests are only one part of keeping CDL drivers sober behind the wheel and able to safely operate their vehicles. There are numerous other aspects to consider:

  • Having a bullet-proof drug-free workplace policy manual that protects you, your CDL drivers, and the people you share the road with.

  • Training your staff on how to recognize the signs of impairment, conduct pre-employment alcohol and drug testing, manage the return-to-duty process, and know what steps to take in the case of a motor vehicle operator testing positive.

  • Maintaining a random drug testing pool by enrolling in a consortium.

  • Enrolling in the DOT Clearinghouse through a third-party administrator (TPA).

We can assist you with all of these things and more!

Partnering with US Drug Test Centers

Working with US Drug Test Centers means having your own personal substance abuse professional in your corner. We'll help you stay compliant with all DOT regulations so that you can pass a DOT audit at any time.

We'll help you manage all of your alcohol and drug testing, including random selections and random drug and alcohol testing, pre-employment drug testing, and all other CDL drug testing. Easily meet the Department of Transportation's stringent drug testing requirements!

truck on the expressway

Enroll in our random drug testing pool via our consortium and allow us to also guide you through the required sign-up on the Clearinghouse website.

Drug and Alcohol Testing is a Must for DOT Professionals

The DOT maintains such strict drug testing requirements because impairment can easily lead to bodily injury and even human fatality.

Pre-employment testing, follow-up tests, return-to-duty tests, etc. are crucial to ensure that no illicit substances are in a person's system and they're capable of operating their vehicle or machinery.

Partner with US Drug Test Center to keep your staff and the general public safe at all times!


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