Which Employees Are Covered under DOT Testing Regulations?


The U.S. Department of Transportation requires drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive employees. These workers operate in a wide range of industries, from trucking to aviation to natural gas and beyond. If you’re applying for a new job, you may wonder if you’re covered under DOT testing regulations. This helpful guide will explain which employees are required to take DOT drug/alcohol tests, as well as what to do if you fail or refuse a test.

Employees Required to Take DOT Drug and Alcohol Tests

As a general rule of thumb, you must comply with DOT testing regulations if your job is regulated by the Department of Transportation. This includes commercial vehicle drivers, airline workers, school bus drivers, train conductors, and more. Here is an overview of employees covered under DOT testing regulations:

  • Drivers who operate Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) with a gross weight over 26,001 pounds
  • Drivers transporting more than 16 occupants, including the driver
  • Drivers transporting hazardous materials
  • Members of the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Pipeline and natural gas workers, including maintenance and emergency response teams
  • Revenue vehicle operators
  • Pilots, flight attendants, aircraft dispatchers, flight instructors, air traffic controllers, ground security coordinators, and other aviation employees
  • Train conductors, locomotive engineers, signalmen, train dispatchers, and other railroad employees

If you’re still wondering whether you fall under DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations, the DOT offers a free online tool for employees. Answer some simple question prompts to find out if you are covered or not. If not, the tool will say “You are not subject to drug & alcohol testing under FAA (14 CFR part 120) and DOT (49 CFR part 40) regulations.” If you are a covered employee, you can see a list of testing parameters for your position, such as when you may be tested and what happens if you refuse a DOT drug test.

Do All DOT Employees Take the Same Drug Tests?

DOT drug testing regulations vary slightly based on industry, and some elements of the testing process are left to the employer’s discretion. For instance, if you fail a DOT drug test, your employer determines whether to terminate your job or not. The DOT requires you to immediately stop performing safety-sensitive job duties after a failed drug test, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose your job altogether. You will need to complete a SAP program before returning to your original position.

What If I Fail or Refuse a DOT Drug Test?

DOT drug tests are required for several scenarios:

  • Pre-employment: Before you begin work as a safety-sensitive employee
  • Reasonable suspicion: One or more supervisors believe you’ve been performing work under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Post-accident: Immediately following an accident you had at work
  • Random: Any time, but the employer must conduct a truly random drug test selection
  • Return-to-Duty: After completion of a SAP program
  • Follow-up: Any time within 5 years following completion of the Return-to-Duty process, per the request of your Substance Abuse Professional

If you fail or refuse a test during any of those circumstances, you will not be permitted to conduct safety-sensitive job duties. You must work with a DOT-qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and successfully complete the Return-to-Duty process to reinstate your job duties. Your SAP will create a personalized program in compliance with DOT regulations.

American Substance Abuse Professionals, Inc. has a vast network of DOT-qualified SAPs serving every state in the USA. Their clients have an 85% success rate for returning to work.

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