What Is a Non DOT Drug Test?

By Jackie Lohrey

A non-DOT drug screen is any drug test that follows state laws rather than federal testing guidelines. Only “safety-sensitive” transportation employees are required to follow Department of Transportation federal regulations. Although a non-DOT drug test can test for fewer than the five substances required in a DOT test, most are significantly more in-depth.

DOT vs. Non-DOT Testing

Covered Employees

DOT-compliant testing applies only to transportation employees who bear a fundamental responsibility for public safety. This includes, but isn’t limited to, airplane pilots, truck drivers, subway operators and ship captains. In contrast, non-DOT testing applies to DOT employees in non-safety sensitive job roles and employees in all other types of businesses.

Covered Substances

DOT testing can include only alcohol and five classes of drugs. These are:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • PCP

With non-DOT testing, an employer can test for only one substance or as many as he feels is necessary. According to Alliance Occupational Medicine, many employers use a standard 10-panel test. In addition to the five substances included in a DOT test, a 10-panel test also includes:

  • Barbiturates 
  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Librium)
  • Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
  • Methadone 
  • Propoxyphene (Darvon)

Procedures and Requirements

Although state laws on drug testing vary widely, all have rules designed to prevent discrimination and ensure fair and equal treatment. State laws generally agree that:

  • A job applicant must be informed that drug testing will be part of the hiring process
  • Drug testing should be performed only after an applicant receives a job offer
  • Drug testing programs must treat and test all applicants and employees equally and fairly
  • Drug tests must be administered and analyzed by a state-certified laboratory

Although an employer can’t force an applicant or an employee to agree to non-DOT drug testing, it can be a condition of employment.

What about Marijuana?

Although attitudes and state laws on marijuana use are evolving, as of 2015 its status as a Schedule I controlled substance has not changed. According to Hunton & Williams LLP, a global law firm, employers can consider both recreational and medical use of marijuana as unlawful -- -- at least for the present time.

With regard to medical marijuana, of the 23 states and the District of Columbia that as of 2015 has decriminalized the use of marijuana for people with a legitimate medical need, 14 have laws that either explicitly prohibit its use in the workplace or do not require non-DOT employers to accommodate medical marijuana use.

About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.