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The Different Types of Drug Tests a Professional Driver May Encounter

When working a job that has DOT regulations under the FMSCA, there will come a time when you will undergo a drug test or a drug screen. While all are looking for the same results, there are different categories of tests. DOT drug screens and non-DOT Drug screens.

DOT Drug Screens and BAT

The DOT drug screen will go into the general database, also known as the clearinghouse. The only officially regulated drug screen for CDL holders is the Urine 5 panel DOT drug screen. This tests for all 5 substances mandated by FMCSA to test for. Once the Urine is collected by a certified DOT Urine Specimen Collector, there is a clear chain of custody until it arrives at the Laboratory for testing. Once the results are in, they get sent to a Medical Review Officer (MRO) who will relay the results to the employer’s representative (DER). The different categories for the DOT urine drug test are: Pre-employment, post-accident, random drug test, Reasonable Suspicion, and Return to work.

The breath alcohol test (BAT) is a breath test strictly for alcohol. It is part of the federally mandated random testing. A driver must take a breath test within 8 hours of an accident.


Non-DOT drug screens are done for many different purposes and by varying methods. Below we will go through some of the more common ones:

Non-DOT Lab Urine drug test: This drug test follows a very similar course with the DOT drug screens, but there are some differences. For example, having a medical review officer review the results isn’t mandatory. There are also 10 panel urine drug tests, as opposed to the DOT test being just five

Hair Follicle Test: The hair follicle test is a drug screen which uses the donor’s hair for testing. For many drugs, the hair follicle test can detect traces for longer than a standard urine test. Usually, the hair will be collected in two places; one from the head and another from somewhere on the body. Hair follicle tests, depending on the panel, will often test anywhere from 5-14 kinds of different substances.

Instant Urine Drug Test: The urine instant tests are collected at a testing site, with results within minutes. It can be tested with a strip, or a rapid machine. These results do not have the option of being reviewed by an MRO. In cases of a positive results, an employer may insist on having a follow up directly observed lab-based urinalysis done to verify results.

Other kinds of tests are saliva tests and blood test. Neither is common, mostly because of the limitations they hold. Saliva testing doesn’t cover many substances and blood tests don’t provide a longer testing time frame and can be expensive.

To summarize, there are many different types of testing for substances in the workplace. Only the BAT DOT 5 panel Urine drug test is regulated under the FMCSA when it pertains to standard CDL Commercial drivers.


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