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How Often Do Truck Drivers Get Drug Tested?

One responsibility of a truck driver is to comply with drug tests. The Department of Transportation, or DOT, has mandatory drug tests that any safety-sensitive employee must complete. As a truck driver, you are tested multiple times throughout your employment. Truck driver drug testing is in place to keep the roads safe for everyone. 

What do the drug tests screen for?

The DOT drug test is most likely different from other drug tests you may have done. There are many ways to do a drug test, but DOT only uses a urine sample for drugs and a breathalyzer for alcohol. This drug test does not have rapid or instant results. All samples undergo thorough analysis for the most accurate results. 

The drug test follows a five-panel test which tests for:

  1. Marijuana or THC
  2. Cocaine 
  3. Amphetamines or methamphetamine, MDMA
  4. Opiates or codeine, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone
  5. Phencyclidine or PCP

The DOT breathalyzer tests for:

  1. Alcohol concentration levels of .004 or above. 

Some individuals have traces of alcohol or drugs that appear in their tests even 30 days after their last use. Be honest with the employer if traces are found in your test. Being an employee who drives commercial motor vehicles means you are held to a higher standard on and off the road. 

Do truck drivers get drug tested?

Any individual who has a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and operates vehicles that carry more than 16 people or transport heavy materials will have to comply with drug tests. Truck driver drug testing is set in place to discourage employees from using and abusing drugs and alcohol. In the transportation and logistics industry, drivers need to follow the laws and regulations to keep the roads safe. Truck drivers should not view drug tests as an annoying task. Most employers want to help employees by recognizing early and appropriate alcohol and drug problems.

Any DOT safety-sensitive employee must participate in a drug and alcohol test. A safety-sensitive employee is someone who has a job that can impact the safety of themselves and others. A safety-sensitive employee can be a truck driver, train operator, airline crew, or individuals working on pipelines. 

When do you get drug tested? 

There are many occasions when truck driver drug testing must be completed. The first chance is a pre-employment drug test. When you are in the hiring process, the company will require you to do a drug test and background check. 

After you are hired, the company may ask you to do another drug test if there is reasonable cause or suspicion. If your supervisors suspect that you have been using drugs or alcohol on and off the road, you will have to perform a drug test. Make sure there is evidence to support their accusation such as concerning appearance, smell, and speech.

Likewise, most companies will make an employee do a drug test if they were involved in a vehicle accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration doesn’t always require a drug test after an accident. However, most drivers do an alcohol test within 8 hours of the accident and a drug test within 32 hours. If there is a human fatality resulting from the accident, the driver must be tested for drugs, even if they were not cited. This will help guarantee insurance protection for the driver and the organization. 

During your time as a truck driver, you will also have to perform random drug tests. Random testing is done quarterly. These tests must be done with a random selection rule and all employees must have an equal chance to be tested. 

What should you do to prepare for a drug test?

Since the drug test is a urine sample, it is important to be hydrated and drink liquids. You might want to talk to your health care provider about your legal prescription medications. In rare cases, the prescriptions can cause a false positive on a drug test. If this happens to you, always schedule a follow-up drug test and provide your prescription information. The best advice for a drug test is to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Again, these tests are a way to keep the roads safe for everyone. 

What happens if you don’t pass the drug test?

If you fail your DOT trucking drug test, it does not mean you are immediately fired, however, it is still very serious. Your employer might suspend you from your job for some time. You can have additional penalties like having your license removed or losing your certification. When returning to work, you will have to complete various return-to-duty drug tests and screenings. You may also work with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for guidance.

Nonetheless, if your drug test was inadequate, you will be fired from your job. Being a safety-sensitive employee who uses drugs and alcohol is extremely harmful to yourself and others. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol protects your life, your job, and other’s lives while on the road. If you struggle with drug and alcohol use then this job is not the best fit for you. 

How long does a failed drug test stay on my record?

A positive drug test will stay on your record until you complete the return-to-duty drug testing and screening process. After that, the violation will stay on your CDL Clearinghouse for five years. A CDL Clearinghouse is an online database that provides government agencies and employers with real-time access to information about your CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations. Your DOT drug test results can only be viewed with your consent, but refusing access may result in lost opportunities. 

A truck driver’s drug tests may seem strict, but it is an invaluable way to prevent future damage and loss on the road. Know and understand your employer’s expectations and guidelines for drug and alcohol use. At Matheson, we value our employee’s safety. Check out Matheson Careers, read about working for us, and view current job openings now.

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