The Ultimate Drug And Alcohol Testing Guide: What You Need To Know About The Procedure - Advanced-Trucking
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The Ultimate Drug And Alcohol Testing Guide: What You Need To Know About The Procedure

President Obama signed the FAST Act transportation measure into law on December 4, 2015. It permits, among other things, hair follicle drug testing as a DOT-approved technique, but only after the Department of Health and Human Services creates testing criteria, which have to be finished in a year.

What New Truck Drivers Should Know About Drug Testing Procedures:

  • During any stage of the pre-employment or employment process, CDL drivers and prospective drivers will be required to submit to a drug and/or alcohol screening. Drivers are not allowed to refuse a drug or alcohol test according to DOT standards.
  • Although many businesses also use hair follicle testing, urine (UA) is currently the only legally recognized way to fulfill Federal DOT drug testing regulations.
  • Drivers will undergo testing to check for the presence of prescription medications and Schedule 1 narcotics. Drivers may occasionally be subjected to alcohol tests as well.
  • Metabolites are created when a drug is broken down by the body and ends up in the blood and hair follicles. Drug analyses are employed to identify these metabolites.
  • Apart from the obvious safety risks associated with drug-using CDL drivers, drug usage in the workplace increases the risk of increased insurance rates for companies and increases liability concerns if drug-related accidents or injuries occur.
  • Refusing to submit to a drug or alcohol test is typically regarded as failing. The inability to generate enough hair or urine for a proper test may in some circumstances be interpreted as a refusal. A driver’s permanent record will include any failed DOT drug or alcohol tests.

Factors That Affect Drug And Alcohol Detection Times:

Although there are commonly recognized detection durations, a variety of factors might influence the duration of urinalysis drug detection, such as:

  • The longer the detectable period, the larger the amount of substance utilized.
  • To have the intended result, frequent users may need to take larger quantities.
  • The detectable period of a substance increases with its usage.
  • A well-hydrated body will typically have shorter detection times.
  • Larger bodies may allow drugs to be detected for longer periods.
  • A chemical will enter the system more quickly if its metabolism is faster.
  • Those with higher percentages of body fat may retain substances in their bodies for longer.
  • It could take longer for drugs to exit the body when taken as pills.
  • As people age, their bodies tend to flush out things more slowly.
  • Some foods have an impact on how the liver processes medications.

Urinalysis (UA):

  • In addition to screening for drug use, urinalysis can be used as a general health indicator to identify blood sugar problems (diabetes), renal and metabolic abnormalities, and urinary tract infections.
  • The most popular drug screening technique is urinalysis, which is also the only one that is currently approved to fulfill federally mandated testing requirements. A urinalysis will typically detect drug usage within a 2–10 day window, while the detection window might vary greatly depending on the drug’s kind and frequency of use.
  • The detection of steroid use can often occur from 14 days to 3 months, contingent upon the kind and frequency of usage.
  • Urinalysis results could reveal heavy marijuana use for up to 60 days. If exposure is restricted, passive exposure (secondhand smoke) usually does not result in a positive test result.
  • For testing purposes, samples taken in the morning are preferable since they will be more concentrated and probably exhibit more anomalies.

Urinalysis Testing & Examination Phases:

Three distinct testing stages comprise a whole urinalysis:

  • Visual Inspection:
    We’ll assess the color, clarity, and concentration.

We’ll assess the color, clarity, and concentration

  • Chemical Examination:

Typically, the technician would dip specially treated test strips into the urine and watch for color changes in the specially treated parts. These results will indicate whether drugs are present or not, as well as any other general health concerns.

  • Microscopic Examination:

Unless there are unusual results from the chemical or optical inspection, this test is often not conducted as part of a drug test.

How Much Time Do Drugs Remain in My Urine?

Urinalysis Detection Times:

Marijuana Detection Times

Used Once: 18 days
Used 2 – 4 times a month: 11-18 days
Used 2 – 4 times a week – 23 – 25 days
Used Daily: 33 – 48 days
Excessive Use Daily: 49 – 63 days


The commonly acknowledged periods within which benzoylecgonine, the cocaine metabolite that is examined for, manifests in UA are:

  • 1–5 days for casual or one-dose users.
  • Users on a regular or high dose: up to eight days.
  • Heavy or chronic users: for a minimum of 14–28 days.

The time it takes for benzoylecgonine to be removed will increase if alcohol or caffeine is used concurrently with or after cocaine use.


Morphine, codeine, methadone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are examples of common opiates. The duration of urine detection for opiates and morphine derivatives varies from 1 to 12 days, contingent on dosage and frequency of usage.

Amphetamines and Methamphetamines:

Methamphetamines and amphetamines can typically be found in urine 1–5 days after exposure.

Phencyclidine – PCP, Angel Dust:

For up to several weeks, PCP can be released into the bloodstream after being held in fatty lipid tissue. For occasional users, the recommended duration is 1–10 days; for heavy or chronic users, it is 1-4 weeks.

How Far Back Can You Go With A Hair Follicle Drug Test?

Drug Testing: Comparison of Hair Follicle and Urinalysis: By Company

  • Until the hair is severed, all materials will stay in the hair follicle. Hair follicle testing can identify drug usage after 5 to 10 days, which is how long it usually takes for damaged hair to grow out from the scalp. The majority of hair follicle drug tests run for 90 to 120 days. Given that normal human hair grows 1/2 inch every month, approximately 1 1/2 inches of hair would be needed for the test.
  • An individual’s head hair grows 1/2 inch on average every month, with an average length of 1 1/2 inches.
  • Consequently, it is customary for trucking companies to utilize hair follicle testing to look for signs of drug usage 90 days later by looking for metabolites. The closest part of the hair to the scalp is cut. Usually, a minimum of one month (or half an inch) is tested.
  • Body hair can be used in place of head hair if it is not long enough. It is more challenging to appropriately depict a historical period when body hair grows more slowly and is typically changed annually.
  • Since most drugs are quickly eliminated and undetected with a urine test in around 72 hours, hair follicle testing has been demonstrated to be more successful than urine analysis in detecting low-level drug usage. Although it is acknowledged as a rough equivalent, marijuana screening is known to be slightly less successful when utilizing the hair test.
  • Cut-off limits are defined to assist prevent positive outcomes from passive inhalation (second-hand smoke), and hair samples are extensively cleaned to remove exterior contamination (residue from smoke and other contaminants). Nevertheless, drug residue in the hair cannot be eliminated or concealed by shampooing, rinsing, or other hair treatments.

How Much Alcohol Can A Truck Driver Take? 

Details And Methods Of Alcohol Testing:

A breathalyzer can often detect alcohol for 12 to 24 hours. An ounce of alcohol, or one shot or one beer, is generally burned by the body every hour.

  • A breathalyzer that has received DOT approval (known as an Evidence-Based Breath Testing device, or EBT) is typically used to test for alcohol.
  • After waiting 15 minutes and retesting, a positive test result for an alcohol concentration of more than 0.02 in the system will be verified. If a confirmation test results in less than 0.02 BAC, no further action is needed; if the test results in more than 0.02 BAC, the employer will be notified.
  • Instead, a driver’s saliva may occasionally be tested to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC).
  • A driver must take a minimum of 24 hours off-duty after a positive test result of 0.02, and a CDL holder must be placed out of service until the return-to-duty procedure is finished if the result is 0.04 or higher.

We hope that this post has enlightened you. If you have more questions on drug and/or alcohol testing procedures or anything related to trucking feel free to drop them in the comments!