How do Non-DOT Drug Screens Differ from DOT Drug Screens?

How do Non-DOT Drug Screens Differ from DOT Drug Screens?

Drug screens are a useful tool for finding the most dependable employees, but not all drug screens are created equal. If your employees will be getting behind the wheel, you’ll need to ensure they take a DOT drug test. But what is a DOT drug test, and what are the differences?

DOT And Non-DOT Tests

DOT, in this case, stands for the Department of Transportation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has created a set of federal standards for commercial driver’s license holders. If your employees are operated a cargo vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds or more, or they drive a vehicle that carries 16 or more passengers including the driver, then they’ll need to have a DOT drug test.

Employees just driving a company vehicle, not transporting cargo or passengers, don’t necessarily require a drug test. It still would be a good idea, as you may be liable for accidents your employee gets into while on company business, but you won’t be out of compliance with federal law if your sales person gets behind the wheel of a branded vehicle.

DOT Drug Test Standards

Most drug tests are divided into “panels,” which are categories of drugs you can test for. Most tests are either five panel or ten-panel tests. You can add as many panels to a drug test as you like, but the more work that needs to be done, the longer it will take to clear a driver.

The DOT test, surprisingly enough, is a simple five-panel test. It looks for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and PCP in certain concentrations. Non-DOT tests can also check for these, and can include other “panels,” such as barbituates. Those non-DOT tests will need to comply with state guidelines and laws instead; before administering any employee drug test, make sure you know what panels can legally be administered and what concentrations will be a concern.

It’s important to note that you can administer both DOT and non-DOT tests to any employee if you so desire. But drivers in particular will need to take the DOT test, and you’ll also need to follow both federal and state disclosure laws with drug tests; ensure any potential employees know that you’re testing for drugs and what drugs you’re testing for. Also, ensure that you’re following HIPAA laws and respecting privacy; some prescription drugs can trigger a false positive, especially if an employee is taking pain medication on a doctor’s orders.

The Advantages Of DOT Drug Screens

drug-screens-2Get the right test.

One of the distinct advantages of a DOT screen, and what in fact makes them popular as a standard even for companies that don’t own a vehicle at all, is their simplicity. The limited number of panels, covering the most common illegal drugs, means that you can send DOT tests to thousands of labs across the country and quickly receive results. While you should check state laws, most states allow you to use DOT drug testing standards in most cases.

If a drug test is part of your hiring process, and it should be, a five-panel test will ensure you cover key legal bases while limiting costs and complying with federal law. Unless you have specific requirements, a DOT test will be your best option.

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