What Happens If You Test Positive On a DOT Drug Test?

It’s not complicated–failing a DOT drug test can have a hugely negative impact on your career as a truck driver or position as an employee for your company. Still, understanding the consequences for you if you do test positive on a Department of Transportation (DOT) drug test can really clarify things for you.

If you work in the transportation industry, you should be well aware of drug testing guidelines. Your livelihood hinges on it, making compliance vital. Understanding when and where these tests happen is also crucial.

At Fleet Drug Testing, our team of professionals can put you in a position to succeed when it comes to the DOT drug testing process. Whether it be finding convenient locations or implementing full-service drug testing solutions, we can help. Contact us today to get started or explore our programs.

What Will Happen To You If You Test Positive on a DOT Drug Test?

The consequences of testing positive on a DOT drug test can be broken down into two categories: short-term and long-term. Unfortunately, both categories are going to impact your career.


  • Immediate removal from your position – The most immediate consequence is that the employee will be immediately removed from safety-sensitive duties, such as driving your commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or performing safety-related work.

  • Verification testing – Some DOT agencies require the option for you to have the split sample (a portion of the original specimen) tested at a different laboratory for verification. This step can provide an opportunity to confirm or refute the positive result.

  • Employer discipline – Your employer will be notified of the positive result and will take appropriate actions, which may include disciplinary measures in line with company policies.

  • Medical Review Officer (MRO) review – The MRO, a licensed physician responsible for reviewing and interpreting drug test results, will contact you to discuss any legitimate medical explanations for the positive result. If no legitimate medical explanation is provided, the result stands as positive.

  • Documentation – The positive test result and associated information will be documented, including the specific drug(s) detected.

  • Return-to-duty process – After testing positive, you will continue to be removed from safety-sensitive duties until you complete the return-to-duty process, which typically includes evaluation by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and successful completion of a substance abuse program.

  • Loss of pay – During the period of removal from duty, you may lose income, as they are not allowed to perform their regular job duties.


While the short-term impact of testing positive is certainly serious, it’s the long-term impacts that can really affect your career:

  • Losing your job – If you test positive for drugs, you may lose your job, especially if you work in a safety-sensitive role like driving a truck or operating heavy machinery.

  • Difficulty finding another job – Having a positive drug test on your record can make it tough to find similar work in the future because employers may be hesitant to hire you.

  • Losing certifications – If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or other DOT certifications, they could be taken away, and it can be hard to get them back.

  • Legal trouble – Depending on the situation, you might face fines or even legal problems if you tested positive for drugs, especially while on the job.

  • Rehabilitation – In some cases, you might have to go through a substance abuse program before you can go back to your job.

  • Social impact – Testing positive can also affect your personal life, relationships, and how people view you.

  • Losing benefits – You could lose benefits like health insurance and retirement plans if you lose your job because of a positive drug test.

Obviously,  testing positive on a DOT drug test can have serious consequences that go beyond just losing your job. It’s important to be aware of these potential outcomes and consider seeking help if you have substance abuse issues. Additionally, it’s also helpful to understand how the testing process works–and what you can do to maintain compliance.

DOT Drug Testing Process

In terms of understanding the DOT’s drug testing process, it’s pretty simple. You should always try to stay clean and not use banned substances. This includes:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Amphetamines
  • PCP

Not only that, but DOT drug testing occurs at certain intervals of your employment, so you have a pretty good idea of when they’re coming:

  • Prior to being hired
  • Random intervals
  • After an accident
  • Returning to duty after a positive test
  • Follow-up testing after a positive test

Not only is the testing process tightly controlled, but so are the procedures used. This includes using only certified laboratories to handle and review the test and results. That said, these tests aren’t infallible. So if you believe you have wrongly tested positive, there are some things you can do.

What Should You Do If You Test Positive on a DOT Drug Test?

Again, the best way to make sure you don’t test positive on a DOT drug test is to simply not use drugs. However, it’s not always that cut and dry, especially if you have to take certain prescription medications that could come back positive on a test. So, even if you do test positive, here’s what you should do to properly address the situation:

  • Check the results – If you doubt the positive result, request another test (split specimen) to double-check.

  • Know your rights – Learn your rights as a DOT employee in your company’s policy and DOT rules.

  • Talk to the MRO – If confirmed positive, consult the MRO for medical insights and explanations.

  • Show prescriptions or other proof – If you have a valid prescription, provide it to the MRO as a possible reason.

  • Follow the Return-To-Duty process – Depending on the situation, you’ll need to complete the return-to-duty procedures that are guided by a substance abuse professional (SAP).

  • Complete substance abuse treatment – If the SAP recommends treatment, you should complete a program. Most of the time, this is a required step to return to duty.

  • Expect follow-up testing – Be ready for regular follow-up tests, which may continue for years.

  • Understand your company’s policies – Review your company’s policies on positive tests and their consequences.

In the weeks and months following a positive DOT drug test, It’s crucial to approach things with a proactive and responsible attitude. This means following the established procedures and cooperating with the MRO, SAP, and your employer to address the situation appropriately. Remember that compliance with DOT regulations is a necessary component of your job, and a failed test–or repeated failed tests–can seriously impact and could even end your career.

Solutions From Fleet Drug Testing

At Fleet Drug Testing, we understand how important it is to comply with DOT regulations. That’s why we offer full-service solutions for you or your company when it comes to drug testing. If you’re looking for solutions, our team of experienced professionals at Fleet Drug Testing has you covered. Contact us today to get started.

Have questions about DOT compliant drug testing? We can help!

Please fill in the form below and we will contact you very soon.

Contact Us Form

"*" indicates required fields