Does Failing a DOT Drug Test Stay On Your Record Forever?

Does Failing a DOT Drug Test Stay On Your Record Forever?


DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing

There are many reasons why you may need a DOT Drug Test for a job. What if you fail the DOT drug test? What happens to your record when you fail the DOT drug test? Does it stay on your record forever or not? If so, how long does it stay on your record? Here is everything we know.

Table Of Contents:

What is DOT Drug Testing?

DOT stands for The Department Of Transportation. The DOT drug test is a standard panel of drug tests given to commercial drivers and other transportation workers mandatory in the safety sensitive industries. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) conducts mandatory tests for drugs and alcohol when hiring truck drivers, railroad operators (engineers), tanker drivers, or school bus operators (drivers).

The primary purpose of the DOT drug test is to ensure a safe work environment in areas of transportation. Many jobs are safety-sensitive and require that the employees maintain a certain level of alertness to ensure that they can perform their duties safely.

What are the Different Types of DOT Drug Testing?

  1. Pre-employment DOT drug testing: it is done on the applicants for the new jobs; it is part of hiring new people to fill in the empty positions. There may be certain cases when an employer needs to know whether a candidate is fit for a job or not, which applies only to candidates who are about to start working for a new company.
  2. Random DOT drug testing: It refers to the testing done at random times where you don't know when and how it will be conducted. So you need to ensure that you have no drugs in your body such as MMJ, cocaine, etc.
  3. Post-accident DOT drug testing: This happens after an accident or injury, you might be tested for drugs, and this process is re-confirmed every three months by the DOT. This testing is usually done by the DOT and sometimes by an outside lab.
  4. Follow-up DOT drug test or retest: following a physical disability, DOT may require periodic retesting of an employee as long as they remain injured or disabled.
  5. Return to duty DOT drug testing: While on a medical leave of absence from your job, you are entitled to a computerized record that will verify that your medical history will not pose any threat to public safety in case you need to return to work.

Does Failing a DOT Drug Test Go on Your Record Forever?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association, failing a DOT drug and alcohol test will remain on your record for three years.

As most employers conduct an employment background check as a standard part of the hiring process, it is essential to be aware that a single failed DOT drug and alcohol test may severely limit your opportunities for work during this period.

Failing a DOT drug test can be a severe matter for many reasons. The National Transportation Safety Board has found that failing a DOT drug test can result in an immediate medical suspension and even termination for all employees who work for companies that do not conduct random drug and alcohol testing.

Consequences of Failing DOT Drug Test

There are consequences for every action. And when it comes to drugs, even a typical day-to-day habit can have serious repercussions. Drug tests are just one of the many reasons why you must avoid any substance abuse.

Mentioned below are some consequences of failing a DOT drug test:

1. Loss of Job

Drug tests are carried out regularly in many workplaces to ensure that the employees are fit for their jobs. Your employer may be aware of your habits, and they may approach you about it. If you fail to respond and you continue to behave irresponsibly, you may lose your job.

This means that not only will you lose your current job, but if a future employer finds out about your habit, your qualifications or lack thereof will not be taken into account, and you may not be offered any work at all.

2. Loss of Housing

Because drug tests are conducted for several reasons, it is understandable that your housing will be tested at some point. While you might not lose your home, you may not be allowed to stay there if these tests reveal that you have used drugs in the past.

3. Termination from the Job

Now that drug tests have become so common in the United States, employers can quickly terminate their employees because of a failed drug test. This is not uncommon for them, and they will do it without much thought.

If there is any doubt regarding the information provided by a potential employee, they will be tested for allergies and drugs.

4. Suspension of License

If you are a driver working in the public transportation industry, chances are you will be suspended from your work for 30 days, beginning the day after you have failed your drug test.

And even if you aren't a truck driver, failing that drug test could lead to disqualification from any employment in the trucking industry altogether.

5. Fines and Fees

There are heavy penalties if you happen to commit a drug-related offense. For starters, your employer will probably have to pay a hefty fine for failing you, in case they are confident that as a driver you are prone to substance abuse, and then they may even have to pay for your defense attorney's services.

6. Mandatory Treatment

Also, after failing your DOT drug test, you may be forced to undergo treatment for your substance abuse problem in an approved facility before obtaining employment again in the public transportation industry.

7. Permanent Disqualification

If you have failed your DOT drug test more than once, your employer will most likely terminate your services, and you may face a permanent disqualification as well.

There is a zero-tolerance policy in the public transportation industry regarding drug use. Employers must fire drivers who test positive for drugs regardless of whether they are prescription or recreational substances.

8. Criminal Prosecution

If you happen to be convicted of drug-related offenses, you will be violating federal law and charged with a federal crime. These kinds of crimes have serious consequences that can include jail time.

It is in your best interest to avoid drug use at all costs because being caught with drugs by the local police or DOT officials can cause you to lose your livelihood and possibly even ruin your life.

Process of a Failed DOT Drug Test

The Department of Transportation has an extensive drug-testing screening process set up to prevent the use of illegal drugs on federal highways. This program was initially made to increase the number of drivers being caught with drugs and drunk driving offenses.

The DOT drug screening test can detect substances such as MMJ, cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, and more.

The failed DOT drug test is a two-phase process that will look for illegal drugs in a driver's urine. The first part is generally referred to as the "Initial Screening Test."

This test is relatively short, taking about three minutes to complete. A red line on an indicator card indicates a negative result. If there are no liens on the card, the sample is sent to another lab for further analysis. A color change can be used as evidence that a drug was present in the person's body.

Once this has been determined, then another drug screen test may be conducted. This is the more conclusive part of the process, and it will use gas chromatography to determine the exact chemical components of any illegal drugs that may have been present in the sample. A radiometric test may be used as well.

The urine collected during this process is tested for drugs using a screening technique called immunoassay. The Institute of Laboratory Sciences has patented a device that can detect and measure drug metabolites in urine without identifying them.

This method can provide information on whether or not an individual has used a specific drug within a particular interval of time but does not say anything about how much was used or whether impairment occurred due to substance use.

By the above process, you come to know about a failed DOT drug test:

Do DOT Drug Test is Required by Law?

The Department of Transportation does not mandate drug testing, but it does require you to perform pre-employment drug testing as early as possible in the hiring process. Most states that allow for drug testing also require post-accident drug testing; this is why DOT has a mandatory alcohol testing policy in place.

Yes, the law requires DOT drug testing to be performed before hiring a driver. It is an essential step because it confirms that the applicant will not be impaired on the job.

Apart from this, DOT drug testing is also a requirement for driving commercial vehicles. It is a prevalent practice in the transportation industry, and it typically determines whether the applicant has had their license suspended or revoked.


Q1.  Can I get a job after a pre-employment drug test?

The answer to this question is yes and no. A positive drug test does not guarantee that you will be denied employment simply because of a failed test result, but they are typically used in an employer's decision-making process when deciding whether or not to hire someone based on their past performance or behavior after being tested at an initial interview.

A positive result generally will not cause an employer to fire a candidate before the end of the scheduled testing period, nor will it prevent them from hiring someone who passed.

With that being said, job applicants are often more reluctant to take the risk of drug use on their own time and at work.

Employers, therefore, recommend that they test the applicant as early as possible to decide whether or not they want to hire them before beginning their employment duties. During this period, they are being observed in their functioning at work.

Q2. Can an employee refuse to participate in a DOT drug test?

No, employees cannot voluntarily refuse to participate in a DOT drug testing program without consequence. Refusing to take the test and not presenting the required confirmation when requested by an authorized safety inspector may result in discipline up to dismissal or disqualification from the job opportunity.

Q3. Can a candidate be required to take the test if they are not scheduled for duty?

Yes, there are several instances where this may occur. A pre-employment test may be given at any time, and a post-accident test may be provided at any time, including arrival to work for a non-duty scheduled employee.

While the DOT regulation does not explicitly address situations when an employee is not scheduled for duty, they require that tests are designed using the most effective means possible and accommodate employee availability subject to testing.


Failing a DOT drug test can be devastating. It could result in your inability to maintain employment for an extended amount of time or even lead you to lose a job opportunity. This is why you must take great care in any situation required to take a DOT drug test.

Most people who fail such tests have done so for two main reasons: either they were untruthful about their past use or were unaware that they had been exposed to drugs recently enough to fail the screening process. Taking extreme caution will ensure that you pass your test and avoid penalties or harsh treatment from potential employers.

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