Basics DOT Employment Screening

Understanding DOT Employment Testing – All You Need to Know

Employers, HR personnel, Risk Managers, and Transportation professionals must comply with the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. These regulations require employers to conduct DOT employment testing, including pre-employment, random, post-accident, and return-to-duty drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive employees.  In addition, they must also meet the mandate for physicals and the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

Compliance with DOT regulations is essential, as non-compliance can lead to legal and financial repercussions. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into DOT employment testing by discussing what it is, its requirements, and how it works.

1. What is a DOT Physical?

One of the first steps of the DOT employment testing process, the employees must undergo a DOT Physical. The DOT Physical includes a thorough examination of the employee’s medical history and current physical condition to ensure they are fit for their job. The physical examines hearing, vision, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and physical limitations.

The FMCSA requires all Drivers to have DOT physicals every two years. Less healthier individuals will need to have a physical every 90 – 365 days. The DOT Physical is an in-depth and comprehensive examination and is different from a regular physical examination. The examination standards differ from regular medical examinations to ensure that it meets the physical demands of the job. DOT Physical certifications are required to be verified and signed only by a specially trained and certified medical examiner.

2. FMCSA Clearinghouse

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) Clearinghouse was introduced in 2020 to maintain the data on drug and alcohol testing of commercial motor vehicle drivers. The employer must register themselves in the drug and alcohol clearinghouse and conduct queries to locate records of all records about their drivers.

All Employers must register with FMCSA Clearinghouse to receive queries about their current and potential employees’ drug and alcohol violations. This requirement is for the employer and employee’s safety as it helps prevent drivers who have violated DOT drug and alcohol requirements from operating commercial motor vehicles.  Every driver must have a pre-employment and annual query in their Driver file.

3. Oral Fluid Drug Testing

In 2023 the Department of Transportation (DOT) added Oral Fluid testing to the list of authorized drug testing methods in 49 CFR Part 40. The Oral Fluid drug test observes the employee’s saliva sample for drug  use. The test regulations are similar to those used for urine testing. Oral fluid drug testing’s goal is to improve detection of drug use by commercial truck drivers. Please note as of August 2023, the labs still need to be certified, devices created and collectors trained.  It may take some time for this to happen and the first DOT oral fluid drug screen completed.

Oral fluid testing is a method that is appropriate for pre-employment, post-accident, random, reasonable suspicion, and return-to-duty testing only when approved by the DOT agency. DOT Drug testing is a critical procedure that helps ensure the safety and security of our roads and highways.

4. 5 Panel Drug Test

Employers must follow the DOT regulations and conduct 5 panel drug tests as part of their DOT employment testing programs. The 5-panel drug test is a urine-based test that screens for five substances often abused by commercial truck drivers:

a. Marijuana

b. Cocaine

c. Amphetamines (including methamphetamine and MDMA)

d. Opiates (including heroin, codeine, and morphine)

e. Phencyclidine (PCP)

This drug test is a mandatory drug test where the urine sample.  Breath or Saliva Alcohol testing is utilized for random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, follow-up and return to duty testing.  Pre-employment alcohol testing is optional.

5. What is a DOT Drug Test?

DOT Drug Testing is a procedure mandated by the DOT and completed for all Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers and other safety sensitive duties. The ultimate purpose of the DOT drug test is to detect illegal and controlled substance use products before the person is employed by the transportation organization. Drug and alcohol misusers are highly risky candidates as they impair driving ability and reduce responsiveness time, putting their lives and others on the road in danger. All CMV drivers must meet the DOT’s requirements that verify their safety and initial proficiency to operate CMV.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires employers and transportation organizations to implement DOT employment testing programs to ensure the safety of the public and prevent drug and alcohol misuse incidents. This blog post has covered the basics of DOT employment testing, including DOT Physical, FMCSA Clearinghouse, 5-panel drug testing, Oral fluid drug testing, and DOT drug testing. Understanding DOT compliance regulations is crucial for employers, HR, Risk, Transportation, and Owner Operators. The DOT employment testing process’s implementation ensures workplace safety and supports the DOT’s objectives of reducing drug and alcohol-related incidents on the roads and highways.

Please contact our Support Team today at 844-573-9378 or to get assistance with your DOT Screening program or order a drug test or physical today.