When your daily route in Montana takes you through Yellowstone County or along Interstate 15 through Helena, it’s important to remember that you still have to follow federal regulations set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). One of the most important of these is the DOT’s drug testing program.
When Do You Get Drug Tested in Montana?
The DOT is the federal government’s primary agency responsible for making sure the transportation sector is safe and efficient. This includes virtually every mode of transportation, from commercial vehicles to passenger cars to airplanes.
While there’s a number of DOT regulations you and other employees have to be aware of, when it comes to drug testing, you are to be tested at the following intervals:
- Pre-employment – Before being hired for a safety-sensitive job, individuals must undergo testing for drugs and alcohol to ensure they are fit for the responsibility of transportation.
- Post-accident – In the event of an accident involving a commercial vehicle, the driver and sometimes other involved employees are required to undergo testing for drugs and alcohol to determine if these substances may have contributed to the accident.
- Random testing – To promote fairness and discourage substance use among transportation workers, a percentage of them are randomly selected throughout the year for drug and alcohol testing. The current DOT rates are 50% for drug testing and 10% for alcohol testing, making employees aware that they could be tested at any time.
- Return-to-duty – Safety-sensitive workers who have been away from their job due to drug or alcohol-related issues must undergo testing before resuming work to ensure they are no longer under the influence and can perform their duties safely.
- Follow-up testing – After returning to work following a period of substance-related issues, safety-sensitive workers may undergo regular testing to ensure they remain free from drugs and alcohol, maintaining their ability to perform their job safely.
In terms of substances, DOT drug tests look for:
Testing panels are typically collected through urine or saliva samples. While the prospect of testing may be intimidating, it’s crucial for safety-sensitive employees in Montana to always be prepared, given the nature of their responsibilities.
Who is a Safety-Sensitive Employee?
Regarding drug testing, the DOT’s program applies to “safety-sensitive” workers, or those whose responsibilities have a:
- Direct impact on the overall safety of others.
This includes jobs you might expect, like truck drivers, bus drivers, pilots, ship captains, and train conductors. But it also includes the people that make these jobs possible, like air traffic controllers, preventative maintenance workers, and switch operators.
With that in mind, along with the strictness of these regulations, it’s clear why having convenient locations near you is important. But even more important is knowing what can happen if you don’t pass one of these drug tests.
What Happens If You Fail a DOT Drug Test?
Obviously, failing a DOT drug test as a safety-sensitive employee is going to impact your career. And while that’s certainly one of the negative aspects of testing, it’s your overall health and safety that’s the real casualty of a failed drug test. Still, here’s what can happen to you:
- Immediate removal from safety-sensitive tasks, like driving commercial vehicles or doing safety-related work.
- Discipline from your employer in line with company policies.
- Having a loss of pay during the removal period from duty when regular tasks are not allowed.
- Facing a high risk of job loss, especially in safety-sensitive roles such as truck driving or heavy machinery operation.
- Having difficulty getting another job due to a positive drug test record, as employers may be hesitant to hire individuals with such a history.
- Risking losing certifications, such as a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or other DOT certifications, which can be hard to recover.
- Potentially facing legal consequences, such as fines or legal issues, particularly if testing positive for drugs while on the job.
- Needing to go through a substance abuse program before returning to work.
- Social impacts on personal life, relationships, and how others perceive you.
- Risking losing benefits like health insurance and retirement plans if the job is lost due to a positive drug test.
Preparing for a Drug Test
Clearly, failing a DOT drug test has serious consequences beyond job loss. So, understanding these consequences and, more importantly, complying with regulations, is a way to make sure you’re able to stay in business. To that end, being prepared for these tests can really help you. Here’s a few ways you can do that:
- Arrive on time and follow all the directions you’re given
- Tell the collector or the Medical Review Officer (MRO) about any prescription drugs you use
- Be hydrated to provide a sample, but don’t over-hydrate. This can cause a “negative dilute” result
- Ask about any appeal procedures in place, just in case
Let Fleet Drug Testing Help Your Business in Montana
Finding the right testing facility for your DOT drug test in Montana can be time-consuming. Our team at Fleet Drug Testing is here to help. We offer diverse programs to make sure that you and your business are DOT compliant. To find out how we can help you find certified testing locations, Visit our enrollment page for more information. Or, you can contact us today to start the process.