DOT Drug Testing Services: Tips for Employee Screenings

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Employers need to opt in for drug testing in the workplace to check whether applicants and employees are under the influence of drugs. It helps them identify workers who might engage in drug use in the future. By recognizing this early, they can implement appropriate measures and ensure that the workplace is safe for other employees.

There are specific drug testing criteria that the DOT (Department of Transportation) follows. Jobs that fall under DOT regulations, like trucking and commercial vehicle driving, are impacted by these requirements. DOT drug tests can be conducted randomly when an employer is suspicious that a specific employee is intoxicated. The tests also can be a part of the DOT physical exam immediately after an accident.

Simply put, DOT drug testing is different from standard drug tests. While there are various techniques for conducting drug tests, DOT mandates urine drug testing exclusively. This process necessitates thorough testing, which is why the results might take some time to arrive.

The tests include:

  • HHS-certified (Health and Human Service) lab testing
  • Testing for cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, and amphetamines
  • No approval for point-of-contact or instant testing

In this article, we will take a closer look at DOT drug testing and discuss guidelines for employee screenings.

Understanding DOT Compliance

The Department of Transportation (DOT) establishes rules and regulations, while the federal agency FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) enforces them. To maintain DOT compliance for commercial fleets, it is necessary to adhere to the regulations, participate in regular audits conducted by federal agencies, and provide ongoing proof of compliance.

The objective of DOT compliance regulations is to implement security measures aimed at reducing driving incidents. Some of the standard DOT safety compliance criteria include:

  • Abstaining from alcohol and drugs
  • Following inspection mandates
  • Complying with hazardous material regulations
  • Adhering to FMCSA guidelines
  • Meeting general safety mandates

DOT Adds to Drug Testing Options

In May 2023, reported that the DOT published a final rule in the Federal Register. Under this rule, employers have the option to include oral fluid testing as part of DOT drug tests instead of urine-based testing.

The AMS (American Maritime Safety) states that before implementing oral-fluid testing, the HHS should certify two laboratories, one as the primary specimen lab and the other as secondary. To date, no laboratories have been certified.

Furthermore, the HHS will authenticate laboratories for using specific equipment in oral fluid testing. Until then, AMS is uncertain about the devices to rely on for the drug testing process.

The Essential Guidelines for Employee Screenings

Random DOT drug testing is well known to every prominent driver and carrier, but that doesn’t indicate that the implementation process is in any way easy. As a business owner, various concerns can arise within a company, especially concerning random testing and its impact on drivers.

Simply put, DOT drug testing services are primarily utilized in the following professions:

  • Commercial vehicle drivers
  • Air traffic controllers and flight crew members
  • Signalmen, dispatchers, and locomotive engineers

Adhering to random DOT drug testing is essential. Here are a few best practices for random DOT drug testing in employee screenings:

Know the Frequency Rates

It’s essential to conduct DOT random drug tests within a specified time frame on an annual basis. However, these rates change annually. To comply with DOT testing rules, it is necessary to research them and find out the relevant details at the beginning of the year.

For instance, the DOT suggests that it is necessary to have six random drug tests after one year of any safety-sensitive duty for the employee to get back to safety-sensitive tasks.

When you decide to implement your drug testing program, you can address this. Otherwise, you might be making all efforts to comply, but failing due to a lack of awareness of the rules.

Ensure That the Tests Are Completely Random

Making drug tests completely random is the best approach. This way, you can catch employees off guard and identify those who may be under the influence of drugs.

Are you wondering how to make drug tests random? You can schedule them throughout the year, but ensure that they don’t occur on the same day. For example, avoid conducting random drug tests on Mondays or Tuesdays or the 2nd, 15th, or last day of the month. The best strategy is to mix up the test dates and days to ensure they are truly random and can occur throughout the year.

According to Heath Street, leading DOT test providers have made drug testing easily accessible. For instance, service providers offer an online registration process that is easy to complete and submit. The test results are provided in a secure PDF file that includes a list of all the drugs tested. Employers gain insights into both negative and positive test results for various drugs.

Test Close to Safety-Sensitive Activities

There are specific activities your company undertakes that are more safety-sensitive than others. It is advisable to conduct testing before such activities. Employers may also consider pausing during certain sensitive tasks to carry out tests when they are completed.

Employees are sometimes susceptible to being under the influence of drugs and alcohol when they take on stressful tasks, which can pose health and work hazards. Conducting tests close to crucial activities can significantly mitigate this concern.

Speak With Employees

The other essential guideline for random DOT testing is that you should have open conversations with your employees, both before and after conducting the test. This is because random tests can make some employees feel over-tested while others are not tested at all. When you communicate openly with your employees, you can bridge this gap.


Relying on the best DOT drug testing service is essential to ensure the complete security and integrity of safety-sensitive jobs in your company. The guidelines discussed above will help streamline the employee screening process and ensure compliance with DOT rules and regulations. Additionally, it will guarantee a safe working environment for all your employees.

Employee well-being is of paramount importance. Hence, employers should take a proactive approach toward drug testing and make a careful investment. The success of the testing helps recognize employees susceptible to drug abuse and can help maintain a good business reputation.