What’s in a DOT 5-Panel Test?

What’s in a DOT 5-Panel Test


The Department of Transportation (DOT) currently requires that 14 drugs be tested under the DOT 5-panel test. The 49 CFR 40 covers all branches of the DOT, including the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) under Homeland Security.

Safety is the priority of the DOT which is why they’ve enforced strict policies across the board for transportation providers, to include safety-sensitive workers in all modes. From the roadways, waterways, airways, over land and underground – it’s in the best interest of the public’s safety that individuals in any operational role for DOT-regulated organizations to not use illicit drugs or misuse alcohol or any other substance.

In maintaining the goal of the DOT’s safety vision, they work towards discouraging the misuse of any substance and test the below substances, along with creating preventative and treatment opportunities for employees and employers in the transportation industry.

For the 5-panel testing, findings of marijuana (THC), cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and phencyclidine (PCP) will all result in a positive drug test. Amphetamines includes methamphetamine, MDMA, and MDA (ecstasy). Effective January 1, 2018, opiates were reclassified as “opioids” and now includes hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, codeine, morphine, along with the existing codeine, morphine and 6-acetylmorphine (heroin).

The DOT has sent out a notice, “Consumers should beware purchasing and using any CBD products.” DOT drug testing analyzes levels of THC, not CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive chemical compound distinguished from THC. CBD will not cause a positive test, however, results of the manufacturing and purification processes for CBD products are unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, it is possible for CBD products to contain THC, which will yield a positive test. The result is Buyer Beware.

Alongside the previously discussed guidelines for the DOT 5-panel testing, the DOT is required to conduct a variety of drug and alcohol tests on employees. With roughly six million Americans in safety-sensitive transportation roles covered by DOT drug and alcohol regulations, the DOT governs testing processes for pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion/cause, and required testing after an employee returns-to-duty following failing or refusing to test.

Annually, the individual DOT modes will re-evaluate their random testing rates, announcing changes made to their modes for both drug and alcohol testing requirements. For 2023, the DOT has announced updates to random testing rates as follows: (FMCSA and USCG to be announced)

DOT Agency
FAA 25% / 10% 25% 10%
FRA 25% / 10% (Covered Service) 25% 10%
Maintenance of Way 25% / 10% 25% 10%
Mechanical 50% / 10% 50% 25%
FTA 50% / 10% 50% 10%
PHMSA 50% / N/A 25% N/A

Information received from:

FAA: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/11/18/2022-25173/random-drug-and-alcohol-testing-percentage-rates-of-covered-aviation-employees-for-the-period-of

FRA:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/12/20/2022-27553/drug-and-alcohol-testing-determination-of-minimum-random-testing-rates-for-2023

PHMSA: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/12/23/2022-27906/pipeline-safety-random-drug-testing-rate-management-information-system-reporting-and-obtaining-drug

If you are an employer having issues with potential misuse and impairment in the workplace, American Substance Abuse Professionals (ASAP) can help! We provide support with DOT and non-DOT supervisory training for reasonable suspicion/impairment detection, second chance programs through substance use evaluations, aftercare, and follow up testing monitoring, as well as promote employee awareness on substance use and abuse. Call us today at 410-366-3899 x607. Work Safely.

Department of Transportation (DOT) – Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC). (Feb. 2020) DOT “CBD” Notice https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/cbd-notice 

Federal Register – Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation (DOT). (June 2022). A Proposed Rule by the Transportation Department https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/06/30/2022-13985/department-of-transportation-drug-and-alcohol-testing-data


Do you need Substance Abuse Professional Services?

ASAP has a nationwide reach in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Our trained and knowledgeable team will assist you in understanding the process and signing up. It’s fast and easy to enroll with ASAP! 888.792.2727 x607

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