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DOT Drug Testing Requirements for CDL Drivers

02/17/2021 09:37

Leaders in the transportation industry hold their truck drivers to a high standard in terms of drug and alcohol use on the job. If you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you need to be aware of the drug and alcohol tests required by the Department of Transportation (DOT). All CDL drivers fall under the rules and regulations of the DOT, so we’ve listed some things you should know about the DOT drug testing requirements for CDL drivers.

What Drugs Does the DOT Test For?

A DOT drug test administered to a CDL driver will test for the following drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates (opium and codeine derivatives)
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • In addition, DOT alcohol tests detect and report alcohol levels greater than 0.02. The DOT does not permit a driver with levels greater than 0.02 to perform safety-sensitive functions.

    When Should CDL Drivers Expect a Test?

    By DOT standards, there are six different instances in which CDL drivers will need to take a drug test:


    A CDL driver must pass a drug test before an employer will allow them to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). If the driver’s drug test comes back positive, they will not be able to operate a CMV.


    Once a CDL driver has passed prescreening and is working for a company, they are subject to mandatory random drug testing. Every CDL driver is part of a random testing selection pool and is eligible for random testing whenever he or she is on duty, as well as just before or after. These random tests come up throughout the year, and when a driver receives a summons for a test, he or she must respond immediately.


    Post-accident drug and alcohol testing is necessary for some situations after an accident, depending on its severity. If the accident involves a human fatality, an injury that involves treatment away from the scene of the accident, or incapacitation of a vehicle involved in the crash, the driver may be subject to a drug test (refer to FMCSA guidelines to evaluate the situation). Drug tests must take place within 32 hours of the accident, and alcohol tests within 8 hours.

    Reasonable Suspicion

    If a company suspects a driver of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may require that driver to take a drug test. The DOT requires companies with two or more drivers to have a designated employee representative or supervisor who must go through strict training to be able to identify these symptoms.


    CDL drivers who have violated a drug test, either by testing positive or refusing to test, must meet with an SAP and, after completing the program set by the SAP, are subject to return-to-duty drug and alcohol testing. One takes the test under direct observation, and if it comes back negative, the driver will be clear to work again.


    The return-to-duty process includes follow-up tests, which are unannounced drug tests for drivers who have a violation but have returned to work again. A minimum of six directly observed follow-up tests will take place over a 12-month period.

    All CDL drivers should be aware of these DOT drug testing requirements for CDL drivers. Given the requirements, CDL drivers should always be ready for a drug or alcohol test and should take measures to avoid abuse of any substances. Be responsible, especially while on the road!

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