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The DOT Vs. Non-DOT Drug Test:
What Are The Differences?

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in this service page, we are going to contrast the DOT drug test with a non-DOT drug test in this piece. We will explain the most important distinctions between DOT drug and alcohol testing and non-DOT testing policies and procedures.


In addition, we will discuss the distinctions between the DOT drug test and the non-DOT drug test with regard to the procedures, policies, and rules.

Definition and Meaning of DOT Drug Test

A DOT drug (or alcohol) test is a test done under DOT authority on a DOT-regulated employee, meaning that person is a safety-sensitive employee.

A non-DOT drug or alcohol test, on the other hand, is normally conducted with the consent of the employer. No specific tasks must be completed in order to qualify; the business can choose which employees to test.

However, in order to be recognized as a drug-free workplace, some firms may conduct non-DOT testing, which frequently benefits the business financially. Employers must generally abide by state requirements in this situation in order to qualify, and depending on the state, some of those regulations may require that employees in particular jobs participate in the testing program.

DOT Vs. Non-DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

Workplace risks are associated with substance use in the transportation sector. But at that place of employment, there are also regular people who drive (or whatever relevant mode of transportation is in discussion). These businesses are required to adhere to federal regulations for their drug testing procedures because it affects the public's safety. The DOT drug test is governed by these laws.

Non-DOT drug and alcohol testing, on the other hand, usually follows state-level regulations on a drug-free workplace program. These rules vary from one state to another. So unlike DOT drug tests, non-DOT drug tests can vary wildly in the specimens collected, the procedures for testing, the forms used, the scope of the program, the cutoffs for violations, and the consequences for violations.

The 49 CFR Part 40 document, which outlines the methods and processes for DOT drug and alcohol testing, is the starting point for DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations. Each DOT administrative agency must abide by these guidelines:

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

  • Federal Railroad (FRA)

  • Federal Transit Authority (FTA)

  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)

  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

  • Each agency has its own regulatory document(s) specific to its needs:

  • FMCSA: 49 CFR Part 382

  • FAA: 14 CFR Part 120

  • FRA: 49 CFR Part 219

  • USCG: 46 CFR Part 4, 46 CFR Part 16, 33 CFR Part 95

  • FTA: 49 CFR Part 655

  • PHMSA: 49 CFR Part 199

Size of the Tests

Only workers who care about safety can participate in DOT drug and alcohol tests.

However, companies have the choice of who they wish to test for non-DOT purposes. Of course, the rules governing their state's drug-free workplace program may influence who they decide to test.

Utilized Specimen Types

Urine samples are nearly usually utilized in DOT testing.

They may utilize urine in non-DOT testing, but they may also use saliva or hair. It relies on the state's laws governing drug-free workplaces as well as the employer's judgment.

The Differences Between DOT and Non-DOT Test Forms

The forms differ when comparing DOT vs. non-DOT drug testing. In DOT testing, they always use a form called the Federal Drug Testing Control and Custody Form, or CCF.

In non-DOT testing, the form used is up to the state, the employer, or even the drug testing company the employer hires.

These forms are not interchangeable. You cannot use a non-DOT testing form for a DOT drug or alcohol screen, and you cannot use a CCF for a non-DOT test.

Requirements and Prohibited Behavior

The following circumstances need testing for DOT safety-sensitive employees:

employment screening
Random sampling
after-accident evaluation
Tests for reasonable suspicion
Resumption of duty testing
Additional tests

They are not allowed to alter or replace their samples in any way. Attempting to get a test canceled by placing soap in your sample is an example of adulteration. Your urine might be substituted for or diluted with another material as an illustration of substitution.

A safety-sensitive employee must go through the DOT return-to-duty procedure before taking up safety-sensitive duties with any employer if they refuse to take a DOT test or fail one.

Refusals to submit to testing may be handled differently in non-DOT settings than in DOT settings, where they are viewed the same as a failed test.

Employers may also have a rule stating that before returning to work with them, employees must go through a certain process.


It is up to each employer to decide this. However, it is not always required by policy for an employee to follow a certain procedure before returning to work for any firm.

However, employers reserve the authority to fire an employee after a failed drug or alcohol test in DOT testing conditions as well as non-DOT testing scenarios. Some employers could terminate you after just one infraction, while others can have a "two strikes and you're out" rule.

A DOT safety-sensitive employee must successfully complete the DOT return-to-duty procedure before being authorized to carry out safety-sensitive duties for anybody, anyplace.


This is the major distinction between DOT and non-DOT testing failures. Even while failing a non-DOT exam may result in your termination and make it challenging for you to get a new employment, you are not necessarily legally prohibited from doing so.

The drugs that DOT and non-DOT tests look for

A DOT drug test uses a 5-panel test. This is a 5-panel test screen for:




Opioids (narcotics)

A non-DOT drug test might use a 5-panel test, but it might also use a 10-panel test, which includes, in addition to the drugs listed above, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, propoxyphene, and Quaaludes.

Non-DOT drug tests can be done with a number of different tests, and the employer can choose what to test for.

Differences in the way the money is collected

The way that DOT and non-DOT drug tests get samples is different. The DOT drug testing process is pretty strict and detailed. This is done to make sure there are no loopholes. As little air as possible gets in.

From collecting the samples to having them checked by the MRO, there aren't many places where mistakes can happen. Part 40 of 49 CFR has these rules and procedures.

Even though non-DOT drug tests might be just as thorough and accurate as DOT tests, they don't have to be done the same way every time. With non-DOT drug testing, employers have the freedom to decide how to test. They don't have to follow DOT rules like a company that has to follow DOT rules. There may be drug-free workplace rules for each state, but they may be different from one state to the next.

Also, the cutoff levels may be different for DOT and non-DOT tests, but most of the time, the cutoff levels for non-DOT tests are just copied from the cutoff levels for DOT tests.

DOT Vs. Non-DOT Drug Test Conclusion

Comparing DOT drug tests to non-DOT drug tests, in general, DOT tests are more standardized than non-DOT ones.

In DOT testing, the scope of the tests, the cutoff levels, the types of tests used, the samples used, the way the samples are collected, and the forms used are all the same. In non-DOT testing, these things may be different from state to state and company to company.

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