Top 6 Reasons to Give Your DOT Employee a Drug Test

drug testing DOT employees


Although any impaired employee is a safety-risk to the public or workplace, federal regulations under 49 CFR Part 40 for the Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing require employers to follow specific guidelines, whereas Non-DOT employers should refer to their company policy and any state/federal regulation requirements. There are several situations when a DOT employee is required to submit to a DOT drug test and if the employee tests positive, they are required to be removed from safety-sensitive duty and to go through the DOT return-to-duty (RTD) process before being able to return to safety sensitive duties. These six reasons to test your DOT employee can save lives and create an environment for everyone to work safely.

  1.  Pre-employment testing: Prior to employment, DOT employees must receive a negative DOT drug test before proceeding in any safety-sensitive duties. Companies should refer to their DOT policy for guidance if they elect to do pre-employment alcohol testing. The DOT leaves this as an option for employers to decide upon and therefore write it into their DOT policy.
  2. Reasonable suspicion testing: Observing an employee stumbling or seeming out of sorts may cause an employer to suspect an employee to be impaired or under the influence. If an employer has reasonable suspicion based on contemporaneous, articulable observations of an employee’s appearance, behavior, speech or smell, the employee must be removed from safety sensitive duty and submit to a DOT drug and/or alcohol test.
  3. Random testing: Unannounced testing is performed so the employee cannot prepare for an upcoming DOT drug and/or alcohol test. This is conducted through a random selection process with each employee having an equal chance of being selected. The employee will be notified that he/she was randomly selected and enough time will be provided for the employee to stop performing safety-sensitive functions and go to the collection site. Failure to show for a test can be considered a refusal to test and can have the same consequences as a verified positive result.
  4. Post-accident testing: If an employee is involved in an accident or crash that meets certain criteria of the DOT, he/she is required to remain available to take a DOT drug and alcohol test and is not permitted to refuse the test.
  5. Return-to-duty testing: If a DOT employee tests positive on a DOT drug/alcohol test or has a DOT drug/alcohol violation, they are required to successfully complete the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) portion of the return-to-duty process prior to having an observed return-to-duty test to become eligible to return to safety-sensitive functions under the DOT regulations. The employee will also be subject to follow-up testing based on the SAP’s follow-up recommendations to the employer.
  6. Follow-up testing: After completing the return-to-duty process with a qualified DOT SAP, the SAP will provide the employer follow-up recommendations on how many follow-up drug and/or alcohol tests the employee will be required to perform in addition to other required DOT testing. All follow-up tests are unannounced and observed to the employee.

These six reasons to test your DOT employee will saves lives, reduce workplace accidents, save on workplace costs and maximize employee productivity. If you have an employee that tests positive on a DOT drug and/or alcohol test, ASAP can help. ASAP is here to assist you with your compliance needs, including 49 CFR §40.287, providing a SAP list for those DOT employees/candidates in violation and getting them back to work! We will walk the DOT employee through the RTD process and provide support and guidance. With ASAP, 85% of employees successfully complete the SAP portion of the RTD process!

Call 888-792-2727 x607 to learn more about our employer and employee services from our knowledgeable team.


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