Drug and Alcohol Rules for DOT Testing in NYC

A transportation industry rife with alcohol and drug abuse is not a safe industry. Recognizing the need for safety regulations, the U.S. Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act in 1991. As a result, DOT agencies are required to implement drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees.

Who is Tested?

All CDL drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles subject to the CDL requirements on all public roads in this country and are performing safety-sensitive functions are subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing. This includes full-time, part-time, intermittent, backup and international drivers.

What Substances Are Tested?

DOT drug tests require lab testing for the following classes of drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates – opium and codeine derivatives
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Phencyclidine – PCP

DOT alcohol tests identify alcohol concentration of 0.02 and greater.

The DOT does not prohibit employers from instituting their own testing program that is in addition to, and distinct from, the required DOT testing program. With these non-DOT testing programs, employers can test for other drugs not on this list. The DOT also does not restrict employers from using tests of non-urine specimens. Any additional policies or consequences must be clearly and obviously described as being based on the employer’s independent authority. Employers should provide employees written materials outlining their own testing requirements.

When Will I Be Subjected to Testing?

Drug and alcohol testing can and will happen at specific times:


Before a CDL driver can operate a CMV, he or she must first pass a pre-employment drug test.


According to the following chart, which can be found on the FMCSA website, drug and alcohol tests will most likely be required after crashes or accidents:


Type of Accident Involved Citation Issued to the CMV Driver Test Must Be Performed by Employer
Human Fatality Yes Yes
Human Fatality No Yes
Bodily Injury With Immediate Medical Treatment Away From the Scene Yes Yes
Bodily Injury With Immediate Medical Treatment Away From the Scene No No
Disabling Damage to Any Motor Vehicle Requiring Tow Away Yes Yes
Disabling Damage to Any Motor Vehicle Requiring Tow Away No No

Source: FMCSA


What Are the Testing Procedures?

The DOT drug and alcohol testing procedures are quite extensive and it’s very important that drivers completely understand the testing process to ensure they follow procedures and protect their own interest.

An employee handbook titled What Employees Need to Know about DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing is available on the US DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) website.

This handbook will give you all of the information you need to fully understand how a urine test is performed and how alcohol testing is administered to ensure a valid result as well as protect your (or your employees’) private information.

What If I Fail or Refuse a Test?

Should you fail a drug or alcohol test by testing positive for one of the five classification of drugs, or registering a 0.04 or greater alcohol content, you will be immediately removed from performing safety-sensitive functions (i.e., driving CMVs) until successful completion of the return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional.

Refusing to submit to a drug or alcohol test is considered the equivalent of testing positive for these tests. As such, you will also be immediately removed from performing your safety-sensitive duties.

The DOT regulations outline refusals to test for drugs and alcohol. Some refusals have been determined by medical review officers and alcohol technicians. In other cases, the determination is the responsibility of the individual employer. Refusals to submit to a drug or alcohol test are defined in here.

Examples of conduct that has been defined as refusing testing, as well as what will happen should you test positive, may be found here. It’s important for all DOT employees to fully understand these specific circumstances.

Where Can I Find CDL Medical Doctors to Perform These Tests?

Urgent Way offers Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals and provides medical exams for any commercial driver that needs to fulfill requirements for a new Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), NYC Taxi and limousine driver’s license (TLC), or renewal of existing New York state CDL.

Our doctors are certified by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to provide you with a thorough DOT physical examination and drug screening that results in the medical certification needed for the CDL and TLC.

We have six locations throughout New York City, and no appointment is necessary. Simply walk in to be seen and tested by one of our certified providers.


Nathan Bradshaw is an expert marketer who specializes in promoting and growing physician practices. He currently works with UrgentWay to help improve their online footprint and garner interest in their Urgent Care, Occupational Health and Health Services.

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