Are you worried about a shy bladder in a DOT drug test? Find out what can happen if you can’t produce a specimen.

What Is A Shy Bladder?

What it typically means is that a donor cannot provide enough urine to conduct a drug test for regulated testing under the Department of Transportation. A DOT drug test requires 45 milliliters of urine.

If you look at a test cup there’s a temperature strip here. Right above the temperature strip is generally enough that’s about the 45 millimeter mark.

But if people can’t supply enough or they just can’t go at all, under DOT regulations a shy bladder, a donor is given up to three hours and up to 40 ounces of water spread over those three hours.

In all honesty most people take about 20 minutes, 30 minutes max and it happens probably one out of five people in our clinic have a shy bladder. So it’s not that big a deal for the most part but there are rules in place for a reason.

So let’s say somebody takes three hours and then they don’t provide a specimen and they drink the water or they don’t it’s not required but if they don’t, after three hours it can be considered intentional.

So what would happen is after three hours a test would be canceled and the donor would be required by the MRO to provide a medical explanation as to why they couldn’t produce a specimen.

So it really is in your best interest to be able to produce a specimen. But as I said, most people can provide a specimen in 20 or 30 minutes even if they just went. A shy bladder is actually something that is a big part of the drug test collection process.

One situation where we see a fair number of shy bladders is when somebody provides a specimen where the temperature is out of range and it’s pretty clear that they brought it in. And so they will have a seat. Usually they’re trying to figure out what to do next. Here’s an example of something that happened not too long ago.

We had a regulated truck driver who was in follow up testing, that is he had failed a drug test once before and as part of the requirements in getting back to work, he’s subject to unannounced follow up drug and alcohol testing for a period of time.

For the drug tests, it is directly observed, meaning a same sex observer goes into the restroom with them to make sure he’s not cheating or smuggling something in.

So this driver shows up and says he can’t go. We asked him to try. He couldn’t go. So we gave him the whole speech about having three hours and a certain amount of water.

As we’re getting to the two hour and 45 minute mark I went out to him I said, “Sir, I hope you understand as we said when you sat down, that if you can’t provide a specimen in next 15 minutes we’re gonna have a problem, unless you brought a medical explanation it’s going to be assumed that you refused to test. So if you think you can produce a specimen it’s in your best interest to do that for us very soon.”

At that moment you could see him thinking it over and he says,”you know I think I can go.”

So he gets up and goes in the restroom, produces a specimen under direct observation and it was sent to the lab and he failed the drug test.

So, it was clear that his shy bladder really wasn’t a shy bladder. He was just trying to get away with not producing a specimen and that’s why the rules are in place.

If you have any questions about employee drug testing rules and regulations having to do with the Department of Transportation or anything having to do with drug testing and employee safety please give us a call.

We’re at 847-657-7900 or on our website at