DOT Covered Employees

Lots of questions about DOT covered employees every day. Let us try and sort it out. The Department of Transportation does provide a great tool to help employees and employers determine if they are subject to the U.S. Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing regulations. This interactive tool is called Am I Covered?

DOT Agency Specific Covered Employees

It is important to understand that covered employees are defined differently under each agency. Each DOT agency is a specific mode of transportation, certain differences between truck drivers and employees of airlines. DOT drug and alcohol testing should always be performed only on DOT covered employees. If the employee is not DOT covered and/or not performing DOT safety-sensitive functions, then the testing should be Non-DOT. Mixing up DOT and Non-DOT testing can cause serious compliance programs and potential exposure to liability.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin (FMCSA) Covered Employees

Employees working on public roads meeting the following criteria are FMCSA covered employees. These are employees who:

A commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is then defined as a vehicle:

Top view of many Semi-Trucks

With FMCSA there is only one category of covered employee which is Driver.

Federal Aviation Admin (FAA) Covered Employees

Front underside view of an airplane

There are nine categories of covered employees that perform safety-sensitive functions under FAA regulations, and these include subcontractors at any tier. These are:

Covered Employee Category (nine categories): Flight Crewmember; Flight Attendant; Flight Instructor; Aircraft Dispatcher; Aircraft Maintenance and preventive maintenance; Ground Security Screener; Aviation Screener; Air Traffic Controller; Operations Control Specialist

Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Covered Employees

There are three categories of covered employees working on a pipeline:

Oil pipelines in the desert

These are PHMSA covered employees when they:

United States Coast Guard (USCG) Covered Employees

Cargo ship carrying shipping containers

There is one category under USCG regulations that is a USCG covered employee – this is crewmember; basically, all working on a vessel for hire – a U.S. flagged commercial vessel. Typically everyone working on the vessel has some sort of responsibility for the safety of the crew and passengers and these folks are subject to drug and alcohol testing under U.S. Coast Guard (46 CFR Parts 4 and 16) and DOT (49 CFR Part 40). Note the Captain of the ship is also classified as a crewmember.

When applying for a license to be a Captain of a vessel a drug test is required.  Any employers operating a vessel for hire is required to have a US Coast Guard drug & alcohol testing program.  There are many requirements applicable to small companies and large companies.  Post- accident testing is required after a serious marine accident (SMI). Learn more about Drug Testing for The United States Coast Guard from National Drug Screening.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Covered Employees

FTA regulated employers are those that are recipients, sub-recipients, contractors, or sub-contractors who receive Federal assistance from the FTA. These are typically mass transit systems operating both in large cities and in rural areas.

The covered employees perform the following functions for an operator or contractor that provides public mass transit service:

Bus driving on the road

Additional FTA covered employees would include dispatch employees and volunteers performing the above functions.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Covered Employees

A train going very fast

FRA covered employees perform functions under the railroad Hours of Service Laws. These are train employees, dispatch employees and signal employees. These include locomotive engineers and conductors. The following categories are subject to testing:

Drug and Alcohol Management Information System (MIS) Reports 

It is important to identify in your drug and alcohol testing program the categories of applicants and employees that you are testing for. This is important for your required annual Drug and Alcohol Management Information System (MIS) reports. Learn more about DOT MIS reports.

Review the chart below to determine who is a DOT covered employee for each of the DOT operating administrations.


Covered Employee Category (one category): Driver


Covered Employee Category (nine categories): Flight Crewmember; Flight Attendant; Flight Instructor; Aircraft Dispatcher; Aircraft Maintenance and preventive maintenance; Ground Security Screener; Aviation Screener; Air Traffic Controller; Operations Control Specialist


Covered Employee Category (one category): Operation/Maintenance/Emergency Response


Covered Employee Category (six categories): Engine Service; Train Service; Dispatcher/Operation; Signal Service; Other [Includes yardmasters, hostlers (non-engineer craft), bridge tenders; switch tenders, and other miscellaneous employees performing 49 CFR 228.5 (c) defined covered service.]; Roadway Worker/Maintenance-of-Way [as defined in 49 CFR Part 214.7]


Covered Employee Category (five categories): Revenue Vehicle Operation; Revenue Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance; Revenue Vehicle Control/Dispatch; CDL/Non-Revenue Vehicle; Armed Security Personnel


Covered Employee Category (one category): Crewmember

For every DOT drug or alcohol test performed the demographic information for that test should include the DOT agency and the specific agency covered employee category. Contact National Drug Screening for assistance with DOT drug and alcohol testing programs with full compliance and assistance with MIS reports.