Making Sure Your Company is DOT Compliant

What is DOT compliance?

About Preferred Alliance

If you employ safety-sensitive employees in a Department of Transportation (DOT) regulated industry you are legally responsible for creating and putting DOT workplace drug and alcohol programs into action at your company. These programs must contain clearly stated policies, provide related training and education for employees, drug and alcohol testing as well as evaluation and treatment referrals when necessary. It is employers like you that help to keep your employees and the traveling public safe.

It’s the law.

The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 requires an agency regulated by the DOT to have in place policies for the implementation of drug and alcohol testing of transportation employees carrying out safety-sensitive tasks. Complying with these regulations is just one of the ways in which you protect your workers and the traveling public.

Why Do Safety-Sensitive Employees Need To Be Tested?

49 CFR Part 40.

The DOT-wide regulation 49 CFR Part 40 mandates how and when drug and alcohol testing is conducted and provides detailed processes covering how and when employees may resume safety-sensitive duties if there is a violation of any DOT drug and alcohol regulations. Part 40 is applicable to all DOT-regulated employers in addition to DOT Agency-specific regulations that apply to an employer.

49 CFR Part 40, Subpart F

Laboratory Testing. DOT urine specimens must be tested at a drug testing laboratory certified by the HHS. DOT urine specimens are tested for drugs or drug metabolites such as: Marijuana metabolites /THC Cocaine metabolites Phencyclidine (PCP) Amphetamines, Methamphetamine, and Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) Opioids metabolites (Codeine, Morphine, and Heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone).

Covered employers can read about Part 40 online at:

Safety-sensitive employees are identified by the tasks they perform, not their job titles.

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders who operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle – 49 CFR Part 382

  • Federal Transit Administration – Operators of revenue service vehicles, CDL-holding operators of non-revenue service vehicles, vehicle controllers, revenue service vehicle mechanics, firearm-carrying security personnel – 49 CFR Part 655

  • Federal Aviation Administration – Flight crew, flight attendants, flight instructors; air traffic controllers at facilities not operated by the FAA or under contract to the U.S. military; aircraft dispatchers; aircraft maintenance or preventative maintenance personnel; ground security coordinators, aviation screeners, and operations control specialists – 14 CFR Part 120

  • Federal Railroad Administration – Persons who perform duties subject to the Hours of Service laws; such as, locomotive engineers, trainmen, conductors, switchmen, locomotive hostlers/helpers, utility employees, signalmen, operators and train dispatchers – 49 CFR Part 219

  • Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration – Persons who perform operations, maintenance, or emergency response function on a pipeline or LNG facility regulated under part 192, 193, or 195 – 49 CFR Part 199

  • Coast Guard – Crew Members operating a commercial vessel – 6 CFR Parts 4 and 16

What Are Some Of The Testing Requirements?

Employee Education & Training

Depending on which DOT agency your industry falls under you may be required to provide employees with educational materials and a company policy that explains the DOT’s drug & alcohol testing requirements and associated procedures.

The Designated Employer Representative (DER)

Company must have a Designated Employer Representative who helps to facilitate drug and alcohol program functions. The DER receives drug and alcohol test results from the Breath Alcohol Technician and the Medical Review Officer in order to spot any violations and remove employees from safety-sensitive duties if needed. The only exception is when C/TPAs function as DERs for owner-operator truck drivers. C/TPAs are permitted to act as DERs for owner-operator truck drivers. Your service agents must be provided with the contact information of your DER.

When Do Safety-ensitive Employees Need To Be Tested?

  • Pre-employment.
  • Reasonable Suspicion/Cause.
  • Random.
  • Return-to-duty.
  • Follow-up.
  • Post-Accident

How Are The Tests Administered?

The three components of the drug testing process:

  • Collection. (49 CFR Part 40, Subparts C, D, E) The DOT alcohol screening tests can be conducted with either breath or saliva samplings and if the results are greater than 0.02 a confirmation test will be required. Evidential Breath Testing Devices (EBTs) only analyze breath and are required for confirmation testing. Urine specimens are used for all DOT drug tests.
  • Laboratory Testing. (49 CFR Part 40, Subpart F) DOT urine specimens must be tested at a drug testing laboratory certified by the HHS. DOT urine specimens are tested for drugs or drug metabolites such as: Marijuana metabolites /THC Cocaine metabolites Phencyclidine (PCP) Amphetamines, Methamphetamine, and Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) Opioids metabolites (Codeine, Morphine, and Heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone).
  • Medical Review Officer Examination of Results. (49 CFR Part 40, Subpart G)

Test Results Are Confidential

An employer or service agent (e.g. testing laboratory, MRO or SAP) may not reveal test results to 3rd parties without the written consent of the tested employee. However, an Employee’s drug & alcohol testing history will follow them to a new employer, if that employer is regulated by a DOT agency. It is required by law that employers provide records of your drug & alcohol testing history to your new employer. All employment decisions are entirely up to the employer. On January 6th, 2020, FMCSA has launched the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse for Commercial Drivers who operate rated vehicles.

Comprehensive Records For Your Program Must Be Maintained

If you are inspected or audited by DOT Agencies or USCG you might have to produce records for court cases and arbitration hearings. A service agent can help by maintaining these documents for you.

You can read about employer record-keeping requirements online at:

Need Customized Solutions For Your DOT Compliance?

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How Can I Make Sure My Company Is Compliant?

You may choose to hire someone from outside of your company to help you stay in compliance with these DOT regulations or to help you put elements of your program into place.

Service agents take charge of urine collector, a BAT, STT, a laboratory, an MRO, a SAP, or you can hire a C/TPA to put in charge of coordinating your testing services. Service agents can help you manage certain roles and functions to help fill in any gaps or your entire DOT drug and alcohol testing program.


“Merced County Schools Insurance Group has contracted with Preferred Alliance since DOT-compliance for our Member District’s commercially licensed drivers. The program has been seamless, and without exception, perfectly compliant and trouble-free.”

Terri Prichard, Merced County Schools Insurance Group

“DOT regulations are very complex with plenty of gray areas – one mistake can close us down. Preferred Alliance’s timely response and accurate information on how to manage the testing process has helped us achieve ‘letter-perfect’ compliance. We have had a great relationship for almost 10 years – there’s no reason to consider anyone else.”

Leroy Ehlers, Panella Trucking, LLC

“I have had the pleasure of working with Preferred Alliance for our seasonal drug testing needs since 1998. In our industry, we place high demands on our testing providers for flexible scheduling, quick turnaround, and competitive pricing. Preferred Alliance has consistently exceeded our expectations.”

Mike Kilpatrick, Del Monte Foods