The days when truck drivers would drive for 48 hours around the country on coffee and amphetamines should be long gone. This dangerous behavior is not only a bad choice, but also illegal. Since 1991 commercial driver license (CDL) holders have been subject to federally mandated drug and alcohol testing. If you are wondering whether commercial drivers get a drug test after every accident, we’re here to answer this question.

DOT FMCSA regulations require testing reasons include pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, follow-up, return-to-duty and post-accident.

InOut Labs, a Consortium/ Third Party Administrator, manages DOT compliance for its clients nationwide. The results are accurate and arrive fast in your inbox.

InOut Labs’ drug testing services include:

  • Reasonable Suspicion Drug Tests
  • Pre-Employment Drug Tests
  • Random Drug Tests
  • Post-Accident Testing for Drugs
  • Breath Alcohol tests

Why Should Truck Drivers Be Drug Tested?

Because it’s the law.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a carrier (employer) or an owner-operator (self-employed truck driver); you need to be in a drug testing program if the vehicle(s) you operate meet one of the following conditions:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more
  • Capable of Transporting 16 passengers or more
  • Transport Hazardous Materials requiring placarding

Safety is critically important and the US Department of Transportation does not compromise. Drug testing ensures that others who are on the road with you are safe as well. Besides, CDL drug testing aims to make truck drivers more accountable for any of their actions.

Many people ask if truck drivers undergo regular tests. And yes, they do. The procedure is important for industry people who want safer travel.

Which Are the Situations in Which Commercial Drivers Need a Drug Test

Below are the situations where DOT Post-Accident drug and alcohol testing is required:

Accidents with Human Fatalities

As a truck driver involved in an accident with human victims that died, you must be tested for drugs and alcohol after the accident.

Citation, Ticket, and Towed Vehicle

When a truck driver is involved in an accident and s/he is issued a citation or a ticket, AND if the vehicle is damaged enough that it must be towed, the driver is also subject to post-accident drug and alcohol testing.

Citation, Ticket, and Injury

Cases in which the driver received a citation and a person has been injured enough that an ambulance must be called, also require post-accident drug and alcohol testing. The screening must be performed soon after the accident. The alcohol test must be performed no later than 8 hours, whereas the drug screening is not later than 32 hours. However, the ideal time frame is 2 hours for both tests.

Rule of Thumb: Unless there is a fatality, no ticket, no test

Can a CDL Driver be tested if s/he does not receive a citation?

Yes. But not a DOT test. An employer may conduct non-DOT post-accident drug and alcohol tests under company authority. A non-DOT test can include different drugs, and the reasons for a post-accident test can be defined by the employer.

How Long Until You Receive Drug and Alcohol Test Results?

Alcohol test results arrive immediately, whereas drug screening test results take some time. When the alcohol test arrives, and it’s positive, the driver must be immediately removed from safety-sensitive work (driving). A positive alcohol test result is a very serious matter, just like a positive drug screening test. If a breath alcohol test result is 0.04 or above, it is treated the same as a positive drug test, and 0.02-0.39 means the driver cannot perform safety sensitive duties for 24 hours.

Drivers violating DOT regulations can’t drive again until they have completed the Return-to-Duty Process. Negative results require no action. If the driver was involved in a qualifying accident, the alcohol and drug screening process must be completed as soon as possible. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration) works hard to keep public roads safe. And for this reason, it regulates DOT drug screening for CDL drivers. The events in which commercial drivers cause accidents with victims or material damage are unfortunate and sometimes tragic. Holding drivers and their employers accountable is essential.

What Should You Expect from a DOT Drug Test?

As of this writing, DOT drug tests use only urine specimens. The DOT drug testing panel for five drug types.

The drugs that DOT drug tests search for are THC (cannabis, including hashish and marijuana), cocaine, amphetamines (including methamphetamine and MDMA), opioids (codeine, morphine, heroin, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone) and PCP.

All results are reviewed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO), a doctor with specialized training, who verifies prescriptions and acts as the gatekeeper for the drug testing process.

Preparing for a DOT Test

Whether you’re going for a pre-employment, random or reasonable suspicion test, the process will be exactly the same. The DOT drug testing collection process is very specific and summarized below:

Go Directly to the Collection Site

When an employee is notified, he or she must proceed immediately to the collection site. Immediately means that after notification, all the employee’s actions must lead to an immediate specimen collection.

Provide a Urine Sample

When you arrive at the site, you will be required to provide a photo ID to confirm your identity prior to giving a sample. You will be required to show everything that is in your pockets and any other belongings with you are not permitted in the restroom. The water is turned off and all cleaning products/fluids are secured. Unless direct observation is required, as in a return-to-duty or follow-up test, you will be given privacy during the collection process.

If you do not provide a sample before you leave, you risk receiving a “refusal to test” which is the same as failing.

Witness Sample Preparation

You will hand the container to the collector who will split the sample between two vials which are sealed with tamper-evident tape and initialed by you. Do not let the urine sample leave your sight during this process.

Sample Sent For Testing

Once the collection process is complete, your sample will be sent to a lab for analysis, and the result is sent to the MRO for review. Depending on the initial results of your test, they may contact you to discuss recent medications or other possible explanations for a positive test.

Who Needs DOT Testing?

Drivers of a vehicle over 26,001 or more pounds, such as passenger and freight vehicles need testing.

Another category of truck drivers who need testing is the category of drivers who move hazardous chemicals. Drivers of vehicles with 16 passengers or more (including the driver) need to be tested.


The answer to the question in the title is YES. Commercial drivers need to undergo DOT testing after a qualifying accident, as well as for other reasons described by the DOT. DOT testing is all about safety. Random DOT testing exists not only to detect drug users, but also as a deterrent. After an accident, DOT drug testing can play a role in determining liability as well.