What Does a 10-Panel Or 12-Panel Drug Test Test For?

Generally speaking, a drug test can be a hugely important aspect of your operations as either an owner-operator of a commercial vehicle or a transportation company. Not only do you have to make sure that you keep up with the guidelines set by the federal Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), you also have to make sure you know what to expect.

For most drivers and other employees that have to be drug tested, this involves knowing what substances are tested for.

At Fleet Drug Testing, our experienced professionals can make the FMCSA drug testing process much easier for you. Whether you need convenient locations or a full-service program that handles all your needs, we have you covered. Contact us today to get started.

FMCSA Drug Testing Procedures

If you work in the transportation industry anywhere in the country, chances are you’re pretty aware of the FMCSA drug testing program. As it stands, drivers and other “safety-sensitive” employees must be drug tested at certain intervals during (and even before) their employment, including:

  • Pre-employment testing
  • Reasonable suspicion testing
  • Random testing
  • Post-accident testing
  • Follow-up testing

Apart from these timeframes, the FMCSA has precise guidelines regarding the procedure for a compliant drug test. Just like their other regulations, the testing process must strictly adhere to specific steps to ensure accurate results. Generally, a FMCSA drug test follows these steps:

  • Notification – Employees are informed that they must undergo drug testing.
  • Sample collection – A trained collector collects a urine or hair sample from the employee.
  • Split specimen – The sample is divided into two containers (A and B) and sealed in the presence of the employee.
  • Laboratory testing – The sample is sent to a laboratory certified by the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) for testing.
  • Review by a Medical Review Officer (MRO) – The MRO reviews the results provided by the laboratory and contacts the employee if necessary.
  • Reporting – The MRO reports the results to the employer.

Depending on the results, the employee may be removed from their safety-sensitive position and could be required to complete a substance abuse treatment program before returning to work. Additionally, not only does the FMCSA’s regulations provide a procedure, but even what substances are to be tested for.

What Does a 10-Panel or 12-Panel Drug Test Look For?

As it relates to compliance with FMCSA regulations, current drug testing panels look for:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates
  • PCP

However, as testing procedures and substances continue to evolve, some drug testing facilities offer an extended panel, usually up to 10 to 12 panels that can screen for more specific substances.


A 10-panel drug test is a type of urine drug test that screens for the presence of ten different drugs or classes of drugs. This test is commonly used in various settings, including those involving workplace or FMCSA drug tests. In addition to the five substances already tested for, a 10-panel screen also looks for:

  • Barbiturates – Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants, and their use can be detected by this panel.
  • Benzodiazepines – This panel includes drugs like diazepam and alprazolam, commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
  • Methadone – Methadone is a synthetic opioid used for pain management and in addiction treatment programs.
  • Methaqualone – Methaqualone is a sedative-hypnotic drug that is rarely prescribed today.
  • Propoxyphene – Propoxyphene is a pain reliever, but it has been withdrawn from the market in some countries due to safety concerns.


Many facilities also offer 12-panel testing, which screens for all of the above substances, and additionally looks for:

  • Buprenorphine – Detection of buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction. It can also be misused.
  • Tramadol – Identification of tramadol, a prescription pain medication that can be habit-forming.

A 12-panel drug test provides a more extensive screening for a wider range of substances compared to a 10-panel test. The choice between these two panels depends on the specific testing needs and goals of the organization or individual conducting the drug test.

Is a 10 or 12-Panel Drug Test FMCSA Compliant?

Under normal conditions, a more extensive drug test would be considered compliant with a typical job or company. However, because the FMCSA drug testing program is so tightly-regulated, it’s better to err on the side of caution when submitting for an official FMCSA drug test.

With that said, there are ways that you can prepare for a FMCSA drug test that goes beyond not using any of the banned substances:

  • Being properly hydrated makes it easier to provide a urine sample, but don’t drink excessive fluids just before the test, as it can dilute the sample and may require retesting.
  • If you have medical conditions or take medications that could potentially affect the test results, inform the tester beforehand. They can make appropriate adjustments or provide guidance.
  • Bring a valid photo ID with your picture on it, such as a driver’s license or passport. This is necessary for verification.
  • Arrive at the testing location on time, as you may need to complete paperwork before providing the urine sample.
  • Listen carefully to the instructions provided by the person conducting the test. They will guide you through the process and ensure everything is done correctly.
  • A FMCSA drug test is a standard procedure, so staying calm and composed can help you perform the test accurately.
  • Follow all testing guidelines, such as not tampering with the sample or using unauthorized substances to try and pass the test.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you are well-prepared for a FMCSA drug test and help maintain a safe and compliant working environment. Further, understanding the potential consequences of a positive test result, including potential disciplinary action by your employer or the loss of your FMCSA certification, is also very important.

Maintain FMCSA Compliance with Fleet Drug Testing

At Fleet Drug Testing, we understand the significance of following FMCSA regulations, especially the FMCSA’s drug testing program. Our team of seasoned professionals is here to assist you with all aspects of compliance, including locating testing facilities and reporting results. Contact us today to begin the process, or take a look through any of our programs to see if we can work together to meet your team’s needs.

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