If you’re applying for any DOT-regulated job, you need to be prepared for drug testing. This includes THC testing in states where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legalized. Every worker that falls under Department of Transportation guidelines is subject to a minimum of one drug test during their employment, but most face several throughout their careers. Here is an overview of how often DOT employees get drug tested.
Every DOT-Regulated Employee Goes through Pre-Employment Drug Testing
Many employers conduct pre-employment testing, but all DOT-regulated employers do this before permitting a new employee to work. If you currently consume anything that would show up on a 5-panel urinalysis, consider stopping consumption well before your pre-employment drug test. This is not a test you can get out of taking, so prepare accordingly.
Random Drug Testing for DOT Employees
Random drug testing happens quarterly. Each DOT-regulated agency has its own way of pooling employees for random testing, and they have their own random testing rates (the percentage of employees required to submit to random testing). The drug tests are indeed randomized. Your employer cannot single out an employee for drug testing or purposefully leave someone out of the testing pool.
Because of the unpredictable nature of random drug testing, you may be asked to complete more than one random drug test in a year. Just because you were pulled for the last round does not mean you won’t be pulled for the upcoming round. Once again, prepare accordingly.
Other Times DOT Employees Get Drug Tested
Post-accident drug testing occurs after an employee is involved in a work-related accident. Reasonable suspicion drug testing happens when a supervisor directly observes an employee acting in a specific manner.
Return-to-Duty drug testing happens after an employee completes a SAP program. That employee will also be required to take several random drug tests for the first twelve months after completing their SAP program, in addition to drug tests required by their employer.
It is difficult to quantify how often DOT employees get drug tested because of these variables. It would be safe to assume you will need to complete a pre-employment drug test, as well as at least one random drug test per year.
What to Do If You Fail a Drug Test
The Department of Transportation has strict policies for positive test results. Employees must immediately be removed from safety-sensitive work until they have completed the Return-to-Duty process (RTD). Your employer has the discretion to re-hire you after RTD or terminate your employment.
If you failed a drug test and want to return to work as quickly as possible, get matched with a DOT-qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). Your SAP will create a personalized program for you to complete which may include counseling, education, substance abuse treatment, or other steps. Then you can take an RTD drug test to get cleared for work.