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The Life of A DOT Drug Test

Employers and employees often wonder what happens to the urine specimen once it is collected at a drug testing facility.
The Department of Transportation mandates specific guidelines for safety sensitive employees regarding the collection of a urine specimen. This includes specific protocol for the collection, and chain of custody protocol when specimen leaves the drug testing facility. The specific protocol are found in the 49 CFR Part 40 Department of Transportation regulations.

The step by step process for the life of a DOT Drug test includes:

I – Notification by Employer

• Donor is notified to submit for a DOT drug test

II – Reason for DOT drug test

• Pre-employment
• Reasonable Suspicion
• Random
• Post-Accident
• Return-to-duty & Follow-up

III- Donor reports immediately upon notification to the drug testing facility

IV- Donor follows urine collection protocol

• Donor’s ID is verified
• Donor empties pockets
• Donor selects sealed drug testing kit
• Donor provides 45 ml or more of urine
• Donor observes collector check temperature and pour urine into 2 bottles
• Donor observes collector seal bottles A & B and initials labels on A & B bottles
• Donor signs paperwork

V- Specimen arrives a the lab

• Lab determines if flaws are present. (Any possible tampering of specimen) If so, the specimen is rejected for testing.
• If no flaws are present, lab technician opens bottle A and does an initial screening.
A positive screening requires a different screening by a different testing methodology.
• A negative result on either is reported as a negative test result to the MRO (Medical Review Officer)
• A positive result is reported to the MRO if both the initial and second screening produce a positive result.

VI- MRO Receives Results

• Medical Review Officer reviews lab results and verifies negative test results.
• Positive, adulterated, or substituted results are reviewed by the MRO.   The MRO  contacts the donor for information to determine if a legitimate medical reason exists.

VII- Results Released

• The Medical Review Officer releases results to the employer as
Negative, Positive, Refusal, or Cancelled
• The MRO may request a recollect of certain cancelled test results.

Thus concludes the life of a DOT drug test.

Other important bits of information regarding the life of a DOT drug test are:

  • The processing of all DOT tests must be performed by a SAMSHA-Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration certified laboratory.
  • The drug tests are screened by two very powerful and sensitive instruments used to detect and study trace amount of chemicals called Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS).
  • The turnaround time for DOT test results is 24-72 hours. A urine specimen with any issues could take longer.

As you can see, the life of a DOT drug test is a complex process and the Department of Transportation regulations ensure the integrity of the final outcome.

For more information on this topic or information regarding our programs, please call 530-832-4100