DOT Drug Test FAQs

The terms positive drug test and failed drug test are often used interchangeably; however, there is an additional qualifying term known as a non-negative drug test which gives the positive drug test a different meaning. When you have a positive drug test, it is considered non-negative until it has gone through a review process by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). This gives you the opportunity to present proper documentation to explain the positive result, such as a valid prescription. If the MRO verifies your prescription(s) valid, the result becomes a negative drug test. Otherwise, if the MRO cannot accept your submitted documentation, the test is ruled as positive and is a failed drug test. How this impacts your employment status can vary based on company policies. Although, if there is any safety concern while the investigation is ongoing, you may be removed from safety-sensitive duties while a final ruling is being determined.

It is important to note that using CBD can result in a failed drug test because CBD products are not FDA regulated and may contain some levels of THC. The DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) issued a notice providing important information for both employers and safety sensitive employees on the facts for DOT testing and CBD products due to the misleading information on CBD product labeling containing marijuana. Until marijuana is legal on a federal level and/or ODAPC provides guidance, having a medical marijuana note or using CBD products is not considered an acceptable explanation for a positive DOT marijuana test. Learn more here: Cannabidoil and Drug Tests (Jupe, 2019).

Jupe, N. (2019). Cannabidiol and drug tests.

If you have a non-negative DOT drug test, you will enter into the MRO review process. The impact on your employment will depend on the situation. For example, if you successfully comply with the Medical Review process by presenting a valid prescription from a licensed physician, you are using the proper dosage, and it does not hinder your ability to perform safety-sensitive duties, this could medically explain the non-negative test results and you may be able to return to work as normal after. This will also allow the MRO to report a negative test result to your employer/prospective employer.

If you do not have a valid prescription as a medical explanation for a positive test, you will immediately be removed from DOT safety-sensitive job duties. Next steps for your employment will be determined by the company policy and does not necessarily mean your employment will be terminated. Your employer or prospective employer will provide you a SAP list or may have a process in place to complete this portion of the return-to-duty process with a qualified DOT Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) as mandated by the DOT under 49 CFR Part 40.

After completing the SAP portion of the return-to-duty process, your employer or prospective employer will request for you to have an observed DOT return-to-duty drug test. The return-to-duty test supersedes a pre-employment test in this situation only. If that test shows negative, you will be allowed to return to a DOT safety sensitive capacity. After returning to work, you will be required to have no less than 6 unannounced and observed DOT follow-up drug tests (and alcohol test if applicable) in the next 12 months. The unannounced testing may continue for up to 5 years based on the directive the qualified DOT SAP provides the employer. An employee is not to know the follow-up testing schedule ordered by the SAP.

The only way to return to a safety-sensitive position after a verified positive DOT drug and/or alcohol test is to begin the return-to-duty (RTD) process with a qualified DOT Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). This clinical expert will assess and evaluate your circumstances and make the appropriate recommendations for treatment and/or education for you to complete. Upon the successful completion of your recommendations, the same SAP will re-evaluate your eligibility to have your employer or prospective employer request an observed return-to-duty test, which supersedes a pre-employment test in this circumstance. A verified negative RTD test will allow an employer to place you back into safety-sensitive work again. An employer will then request unannounced and observed follow-up tests that have been mandated by the SAP while you are working.

American Substance Abuse Professionals, Inc. (ASAP), has a network of more than 5,000 qualified DOT SAPs throughout the United States. We match you with a SAP near you so you can return to work as quickly as possible. Our clients have an 85% success rate in successfully completing the SAP process to be eligible to return to safety sensitive work with our guidance. The enrollment process is quick and easy. Most clients see their SAP within a few days of contacting ASAP.

Call 888-792-2727 x177 to enroll today.

Since the early 1990s, the Department of Transportation has used drug and alcohol testing to monitor safety-sensitive transportation employees. This ensures that pilots, truck drivers, mass transit operators, conductors, captains and other DOT professionals operate in a drug-free and alcohol-free environment. If you hold a commercial learner’s permit or commercial driver’s license (CDL) and have recently gone through drug and alcohol testing, you may wonder, “Does a failed DOT drug test go on your record?” The short answer is yes, but that does not mean you are without options. Read on to learn how DOT positive test results and other DOT violations are reported.

A failed DOT drug and/or alcohol test stays in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse until you successfully comply with the return-to-duty process (RTD) with a qualified DOT Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). As of January 6, 2020, FMCSA drug and alcohol violations are now reported to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse by Employers or Medical Review Officers (MRO). If you failed or refused a DOT FMCSA drug and/or alcohol test that occurred on or after that date, the information will remain in the Clearinghouse until you successfully complete the RTD process. After you successfully complete the SAP portion of the RTD process the employer or prospective employer will instruct you to take an observed RTD test. Then the employer will report the verified negative result date into the Clearinghouse and may place you back in safety-sensitive functions. An employer will then request unannounced and observed follow-up tests that have been mandated by the SAP while you are working. When all the follow-up tests have been completed successfully, the employer enters the date into the Clearinghouse. Your record will stay in the Clearinghouse for 5 years. If the RTD process is not started or successfully completed by a driver, the violation stays in the database indefinitely.

Your positive test results or violations will be in the Clearinghouse whether you have an account or not. The information is linked to your commercial driver’s license number and issuing state. If you obtain a CDL in another state, the Clearinghouse will link your CDLs and the data connected to them. You may review your Clearinghouse record for free at any time by becoming an authorized user. Keep in mind, your prospective employer is required to check for violations with past employers as well. As a DOT safety sensitive covered employee, you also hold the responsibility to provide violations to your prospective employer.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound that is extracted from a cannabis plant. Cannabis plants can be classified into two categories: hemp and marijuana. CBD comes from both types. CBD products that come from hemp plants typically have a much lower concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the chemical that gives marijuana most of its psychological effects. CBD products from marijuana plants contain higher concentrations of THC, sometimes as high as 30%. Non-psychoactive CBD oil is often used to treat anxiety, inflammation, arthritis, epilepsy, and a range of other conditions. In many states, a prescription is not necessary to purchase CBD products.

The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) that prevails over DOT 49 CFR Part 40 has also provided notice on CBD products. The DOT requires testing on marijuana THCA metabolites and not CBD. Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act. CBD product labeling may be misleading and contain higher levels of THC, which could result in a verified positive drug test. CBD products are NOT currently certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have issued caution to the public: “Consumers should beware purchasing and using any [CBD] products.” The notice can be viewed here.

According to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, any CBD products that contain more than a 0.3% concentration of THC are classified as marijuana. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Despite state laws permitting the use of recreational and medical marijuana, the Department of Transportation prohibits safety-sensitive workers from using marijuana.

The DEA recently added a limited exception for CBD products containing less than 0.1% THC. These products fall into the Schedule V category of the Controlled Substances Act. However, there is only one medication available currently that complies with those stipulations. It is call EPIDIOLEX®, and it is prescribed for two rare epilepsy disorders.

CBD products with a THC concentration above 0.3% will yield a positive DOT test result for marijuana. Even if you have never used marijuana before, the CBD could result in a failed DOT drug test. As a result, the DOT says, “Safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products.”

CBD products are largely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may contain other compounds due to processing. This means that regardless of what the label says, or, what you’ve read on the Internet, the CBD product you purchase could potentially cause you to test positive. This poses a real risk to safety-sensitive workers that must pass a DOT drug test.

The production of CBD products remains unregulated. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not verify THC concentrations in CBD products. As a result, products labeled “THC-free” or “Low THC” may still contain more than the legal concentration limit of 0.3%. This means that no matter what type of CBD oil you purchase, you run the risk of failing a DOT drug test.

If you have failed a DOT Drug and/or Alcohol test, there is a way to return to duty. You will be required to complete a return-to-duty process outlined by a qualified DOT Substance Abuse Professional. ASAP has a network of over 5,000 DOT SAPs throughout the country. Enroll now to get matched with a SAP in your area, and find out what your options are to get back to work safely.

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