Does a DOT Physical Include a Drug Test?

Every two years, CDL drivers must complete a DOT physical. This process is designed to verify that drivers pose no threats to their health or other people’s safety by being on the road. Whether you recently got your commercial driver’s license or you’re gearing up for your next DOT physical, you may wonder if drug testing is part of the process. Read on to learn if a DOT physical includes a drug test.

You Must Submit a Urine Sample during a DOT Physical

As part of your DOT physical, you’ll be asked to submit a urine sample. This is used to analyze your health, not the presence of drugs in your system. The urinalysis mostly looks for issues with your kidney performance, but it may indicate other medical conditions as well.

You Probably Won’t Have to Complete a Drug Test during Your Physical

Most DOT physicals do not include drug tests. However, you may have to complete a DOT drug test if you’re getting a physical for a new job. Many employers will include pre-employment drug testing with their physicals for the sake of convenience. In this case, part of the urine sample you submit will be sent to a lab for a 5-panel drug test. This will assess the presence of marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine, and other substances.

If the pre-employment drug test is not included with the DOT physical, you will still have to complete one before starting any safety-sensitive job duties.

When Does DOT Conduct Drug Testing?

The Department of Transportation requires a 5-panel drug test at several points during employment, including:

  • Pre-employment drug testing before you start a DOT-regulated job
  • Random drug testing that may occur at any point during your employment
  • Post-accident drug testing following a collision at work
  • Reasonable suspicion drug testing when employees appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the job
  • Return-to-Duty drug testing after completion of a SAP program
  • Follow-up drug testing for 12 months after the RTD process is complete

Most of these tests will occur separately from your biennial physicals.

What Should I Do If I Fail a DOT Physical?

There are several reasons why you may be asked to cease working after a DOT physical. What you do afterward will depend on the nature of the situation. Potential reasons for a failed DOT physical include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Respiratory and cardiovascular conditions
  • Alcoholism
  • Loss of a limb
  • Eyesight loss that does not improve with corrective lenses
  • Psychiatric conditions

Some of these conditions can be treated, addressed, and resolved. In that case, you may be able to complete a follow-up physical and return to work. If the condition is not manageable though, you may be removed from your position.

You can ask for a second opinion if you do not agree with the outcome of the physical. You must remain upfront about your health history, but another doctor may have a different opinion on if you’re “fit” for work.

What Should I Do If I Fail a DOT Drug Test?

If you fail a DOT drug test, pre-employment or otherwise, you’ll have to complete the Return-to-Duty process with the guidance of a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). The SAP will evaluate your situation and determine the appropriate counseling, education, or treatment for you to complete. Abide by those recommendations and pass a follow-up drug test. Then you can be cleared for safety-sensitive job duties.

If you are unsure as to where to start, contact a provider like American Substance Abuse Professionals. They can match you with a SAP near you or provide a comprehensive SAP list for your area. They have over 5,000 DOT-qualified SAPs nationwide with a 85% success rate in helping employees get back to work.

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