Differences Between DOT And Non-DOT Drug Testing

National Drug Screening, Inc (NDS) is excited to sponsor the Inside Drug Screening column in The Background Buzz for 2024. It is our intent to educate the background screening industry on important news, information and trends about drug screening. Our focus will be on workplace drug testing and each month we will feature a specific drug testing topic followed by any recent news, information and trends. These back to the basics drug testing topics will help your teams better understand drug testing and to help grow your drug testing revenue.

“It is essential to understand the differences between DOT and Non-DOT drug testing programs. Understanding each will help background screening providers to sell more drug testing including more DOT programs which are not really that difficult to manage.”

As mentioned above we will be providing this column throughout 2024; it will focus on back to the basics of drug testing. In this article, we will discuss the differences between DOT and Non-DOT Drug Testing. It is essential to understand the differences between DOT and Non-DOT drug testing programs. Understanding each will help background screening providers to sell more drug testing including more DOT programs which are not really that difficult to manage.

Toward the end of each article, we will also cover recent news, information and trends we are seeing related to drug testing.

DOT Drug Testing

Drug & Alcohol testing is required for employers regulated by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). This was formalized by the passage of the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 which requires DOT regulated employers to conduct drug and alcohol testing of applicants and employees. We often think of DOT drug testing as applying to truck drivers, but it is far broader than that. There are five different DOT agencies that regulate various segments of the transportation industry and additional businesses regulated by the US Coast Guard that must also follow DOT regulations for drug testing. For each of these segments, there is a separate regulation regarding the drug and alcohol testing program; these separate regulations must be applied along with the overall DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations as outlined in 49 CFR Part 40.

The overall drug and alcohol testing regulations 49 CFR Part 40 state how to conduct testing and how to return employees to safety-sensitive duties after they violate a DOT drug and alcohol regulation. Part 40 applies to all DOT-required testing, regardless of what DOT agency-specific rules apply to an employer.

Each DOT Agency-specific regulation spells out who is subject to testing, when and in what situations testing must be conducted for a particular transportation industry.

Selling DOT drug and alcohol testing services is not difficult; this process just requires a knowledgeable team that can follow the regulations mentioned above so that the employers stay in compliance. A big part of these programs is managing required random testing which is often easily accomplished with available drug testing industry software.

The most important item to be aware of for DOT drug and alcohol testing is that the regulations must be followed and there is not a lot of room for flexibility. Here is what is required for a compliant DOT drug and alcohol testing program:

The DOT publishes a comprehensive guide that includes mush more detail on the items above. If you are currently selling or intend to sell DOT drug & alcohol testing programs, reviewing this guide is critical: What Employers Need To Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing

Non-DOT Drug Testing

Selling Non-DOT drug testing programs may seem the easier way to go but there are some complexities to be aware of due to the many state laws. Company policies and state laws should dictate how Non-DOT drug testing should be conducted. For business operating in only one state, the program can be implemented easier than businesses operating in multiple states.

Often, DOT drug testing is considered the gold standard for workplace drug testing which is why many Non-DOT drug testing programs follow or mirror the DOT programs. That being said, there are a few differences to be aware of:

Marijuana is a big issue with State laws and this is the hottest topic in drug testing today. Decisions about marijuana testing must be made and incorporated into company policy including adverse actions to take after a marijuana positive. As a background screening company, you must get educated about marijuana in the workplace and the state laws that apply where you have clients conducting drug testing. NDS offers a comprehensive resource on our web site to help you navigate this process – Marijuana in the Workplace.

Drug Testing Recent News, Information And Trends

As mentioned above, marijuana is the hottest topic in the drug testing industry. Some companies (Non-DOT) are electing to drop marijuana from their drug testing panels. Education on what is going on in the states where your clients are operating is critical. For instance, new laws concerning marijuana have recently taken effect in Minnesota, California, and Washington.

On the DOT side, we will see major changes in 2024 or early 2025 when DOT oral fluid drug testing becomes operational. DOT regulated employers will have the option to utilize urine or oral fluid or a combination of both in their DOT drug testing programs. If you are providing DOT drug and alcohol testing, we recommend you immediately start becoming familiar with DOT oral fluid requirements and options.

Drug use in American is up. The 2022 SAMHSA survey just recently published reports that among people aged 12 or older, an estimated 70.3 million people used illicit drugs in the past year (2022 survey) [24.9% of population]. If you read the news, you know that Fentanyl is now a big problem in the United States. You should be aware that DOT programs do not currently test for Fentanyl and that for Non-DOT programs, you are not testing for Fentanyl unless it is specifically requested to be added to the drug testing panel your client is using.

For next month’s Inside Drug Screening column in The Background Buzz; the topic will include drug test panels and understanding drug testing beyond the five panel. As you may have noticed from our article, National Drug Screening (NDS) firmly believes that knowledge is power when it comes to selling drug testing services and servicing your clients. If you are serious about gaining more knowledge about drug testing, check out our NDS Business Support Portal a tool to help and support your drug testing business.

About the Author

Joe Reilly entered the world of drug testing in 1993 and over the last 25+ years has become a leading national expert on workplace drug testing, drug free workplace programs and specimen collections for drug tests. Joe is the President of a nationwide drug testing industry consulting firm – Joe Reilly & Associates. He is also President of National Drug Screening and is the Senior Director of Compliance for USA Mobile Drug Testing Inc.

Joe served for twelve years on the board of directors of DATIA the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (now NDASA) and for four of those years as the Chairman of the Board.

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