Standard Drug Testing Cut-Off Levels from our SAMHSA Certified Labs

Last updated on July 27th, 2021 at 05:16 pm

Drug testing can detect the presence of drugs and drug metabolites by using cutoff levels to determine if a specimen tests positive or negative for use of specific types of drugs.  Cutoff levels come from industry best practices and guidelines established by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) a part of the U.S. Department Health & Human Services (DHHS).  The cutoff levels provided by SAMHSA are commonly called Federal or DOT drug testing cutoff levels. 

This blog post shows several charts of drug testing cutoff levels so please scroll down to view all.

Current (as of July 2021) Federal or DOT drug testing cutoff levels are listed at the bottom of this blog page.  

Drug test initial screening level vs. confirmation level (typically GC/MS) 

In workplace drug testing, the industry standard process involves two-tiered testing – an initial screen on one portion of the specimen, followed by a confirmatory test on a second portion of the original specimen. The initial test is designed to separate negative specimens from further consideration. This initial screen is conducted with immunoassay screening. After excluding negative specimens, the  purpose is to detect any presence of that category of drugs in the specimen  The confirmatory test uses definitive methods, such as chromatography-mass spectrometry (e.g., GC-MS, LC-MS/MS), that specifically identify and quantify the drug/metabolite in the specimen.

If the initial screening drug test level is at or above the cutoff level, the specimen goes on the confirmation testing, this can take a few days longer for a final result.

Only when a drug or drug metabolite is identified at a concentration equal to or above the confirmation test cutoff level is a specimen reported by the laboratory as positive.

It is possible that with a negative drug test some drug metabolite is present. The cutoff levels are designed to give the donor taking the drug test every benefit of the doubt and to rule our second-hand smoke and over the counter medications.  With the GC/MS confirmation testing there is no false positive. 

What does ng/mL and pg/mg mean on your drug screen?

The professionals at the laboratory are able to determine if a drug is present in a specimen – urine, oral fluid or hair. They always use strict guidelines with each individual specimen and make sure that they follow applicable regulations.  

The cutoff levels for urine and oral fluid specimen testing are expressed in nanograms (ng) per milliliter (mL), while the cutoff for hair specimen testing is picogram’s per milligram.

Non-DOT drug testing cutoff levels

Non-DOT testing means drug testing not regulated by the Federal Government of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). This is the majority of private businesses in the United States.

Most non-regulated employers mirror the cutoff levels established by the Federal government.  For some non-DOT employers there may be customization in  their drug testing panels to be more sensitive to certain drugs based upon their program needs and unique workforce.  Special consideration and specific request is needed for cutoff levels inconsistent with Federal regulations and costs of these drug test may increase.

Lab-based urine drug test common cutoff levels, also called DOT-Like

DrugScreen cutoffConfirmation cutoff
Amphetamines500 ng/mL250 ng/mL
Cocaine metabolites150 ng/mL100 ng/mL
Marijuana metabolites 50 ng/mL 15 ng/mL 
MDA-analogues 500 ng/mL 250 ng/mL 
Opiates2000 ng/mL2000 ng/mL
6-Acetylmorphine (6-AM)10 ng/mL 10 ng/mL 
Opiates (semi-synthetic) 300 ng/mL 100 ng/mL 
Oxycodones 100 ng/mL 100 ng/mL 
Phencyclidine (PCP)25 ng/mL 25 ng/mL 

Urine specimen 5-panel drug test cutoff levels

DrugScreen cutoffConfirmation cutoff
Amphetamines1000 ng/mL500 ng/mL
Cocaine metabolites300 ng/mL150 ng/mL
Marijuana metabolites50 ng/mL15 ng/mL
Opiates2000 ng/mL2000 ng/mL
Phencyclidine (PCP) 25 ng/mL25 ng/mL

Urine specimen 9-panel drug test cutoff levels

DrugScreen cutoffConfirmation cutoff
Amphetamines1000 ng/mL500 ng/mL
Cocaine metabolites300 ng/mL150 ng/mL
Marijuana metabolites50 ng/mL15 ng/mL
Opiates2000 ng/mL2000 ng/mL
Phencyclidine (PCP) 25 ng/mL25 ng/mL
Barbiturates300 ng/mL300 ng/mL
Benzodiazepines300 ng/mL200 ng/mL
Methadone300 ng/mL200 ng/mL
Propoxyphene300 ng/mL200 ng/mL

Instant urine drug test common cutoff levels 

DrugScreen cutoff
Amphetamines1000 ng/mL
Methamphetamines1000 ng/mL
Cocaine/metabolite300 ng/mL
THC/metabolite 50 ng/mL 
Opiates2000 ng/mL
Phencyclidine (PCP) 25 ng/mL

Oral fluid drug test common cutoff levels 

DrugScreen cutoffConfirmation cutoff
Amphetamine150 ng/mL120 ng/mL
Cocaine metabolites 15 ng/mL 6 ng/mL 
Marijuana 3 ng/mL 1.5 ng/mL 
Methamphetamines120 ng/mL120 ng/mL
Opiates 30 ng/mL 30 ng/mL 
Oxycodones30 ng/mL 30 ng/mL 
Phencyclidine (PCP) 3 ng/mL1.5 ng/mL

Hair drug test common cutoff levels 

DrugScreen cutoffConfirmation cutoff
Methamphetamines 500 pg/mg500 pg/mg
MDMA 500 pg/mg 500 pg/mg 
Amphetamine500 pg/mg 500 pg/mg 
Cocaine/metabolites500 pg/mg500 pg/mg
Benzoylecgonine500 pg/mg 500 pg/mg 
Marijuana metabolite 1.0 pg/mg 0.1 pg/mg 
Opiates (MOR &/OR HYM)200 pg/mg200 pg/mg
Opiates (COD &/OR HYC) 200 pg/mg 200 pg/mg 
6‐Acetylmorphine (6‐AM) 200 pg/mg 200 pg/mg 
Oxycodone200 pg/mg 200 pg/mg 
Oxymorphone200 pg/mg 200 pg/mg 
Phencyclidine (PCP) 300 pg/mg300 pg/mg

Federal or DOT Cutoff Levels 

This is a five-panel drug test often called DOT or SAMHSA 5 panel, it does test for more than 5 metabolites as shown. As specified in DOT regulations 49 CFR part 40, Section 40.87; the following substances will be tested for: (subject to change if the regulation changes)


Initial Test AnalyteInitial test cutoffConfirmatory analyteConfirmatory test cutoff concentration
1Marijuana Metabolites (THCA)50 ng/mTHCA15 ng/mL
2Cocaine Metabolite (Benzoylecgonine)150 ng/mLBenzoylecgonine100 ng/mL
3Phencyclidine (PCP)25 ng/mLPhencyclidine (PCP)25 ng/mL

Amphetamine500 ng/mAmphetamine250 ng/mL

Methamphetamine500 ng/mLMethamphetamine250 ng/mL

MDMA/MDA500 ng/mLMDMA/MDA250 ng/mL

Codeine/Morphine2000 ng/mLCodeine/Morphine2000 ng/mL

6-Acetylmorphine (6AM or Heroin)10 ng/mL6-Acetylmorphine (6AM or Heroin)10 ng/mL

Hydrocodone300 ng/mLHydrocodone100 ng/mL

Hydromorphone300 ng/mLOxymorphone100 ng/mL

Oxymorphone100 ng/mLOxymorphone100 ng/mL

Oxycodone100 ng/mLOxycodone100 ng/mL

More information on drug test cutoff levels:

Can you please explain why confirmation cutoff levels are lower than screening levels?

Can I get the quantitative (quant) level of a positive drug screen?

Drug Testing Cut off levels and detection times

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