At some point, the majority of job seekers have wondered: how long does pre-employment drug screening take? This is because workplace drug testing is becoming more and more commonplace. 

Drug abuse among employees can be crippling for a business. Intoxicated employees may have reduced productivity, are prone to workplace accidents, and expose the business to potential lawsuits. It’s, therefore, no surprise that employers are keen on maintaining a drug-free workplaceNon-DOT Drug Test

Workplace drug screening can be grouped into two broad categories: DOT and non-DOT drug testing

A non-DOT drug test is a type of drug screening that is administered to individuals whose jobs don’t fall under the Department of Transportation (DOT) industry. It is neither federally regulated nor required

What Is DOT Drug Test?

Before we compare non-DOT vs DOT drug screening we need to establish the definition of the latter.

A DOT drug test is a form of federal drug screening that is administered to employees whose jobs are within the Department of Transportation. The requirements and processes of DOT drug and alcohol testing are guided by 49 CFR Part 40. These stipulations apply to all DOT administrative agencies including:

  1. Federal Transit Authority (FTA)
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  3. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  4. U.S. Coast Guard (USGC)
  5. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  6. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

Each DOT agency will need to comply with additional requirements as stipulated in its specific regulatory document(s):

  • FTA: 49 CFR Part 655
  • FMCSA: 49 CFR Part 382
  • PHMSA: 49 CFR Part 199
  • USGC: 46 CFR Part 4, 46 CFR Part 16, 33 CFR Part 95
  • FAA: 14 CFR Part 120
  • FRA: 49 CFR Part 219

You can find all the regulatory documents here (Title 14, 46, 49).

Non-DOT VS DOT Drug Test

Transportation-related jobs are described as safety-sensitive and they require a sober mind. If you’re working in the transportation industry, you can expect pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, return-to-duty, and follow-up drug screenings. The strict DOT drug testing requirements in 2023 deter employees from using and abusing substances on the job. 

More than 6 million DOT drug tests are conducted per year. An even higher number of non-DOT drug tests are conducted annually. So, what is the difference between DOT and non-DOT drug test? Since non-DOT drug tests are not federally regulated, employers enjoy a higher degree of flexibility. The following table sums up the major differences between DOT and non-DOT testing services

DOT Drug Testing Non-DOT Drug Testing
Testing is conducted using the standard 5-panel drug screen Employers can choose their preferred panel drug test 
DOT drug tests are administered by a SAMSA-certified lab It is advisable for non-DOT employers to hire a SAMSA-certified lab
Alcohol screening is part of the DOT test Employers choose whether to test for alcohol
Cannabis screening is part of the DOT test Cannabis screening is optional
An employee who fails a drug screening is removed from their safety-sensitive functions immediately. They need to complete a return-to-duty process to be reinstated.  The consequences of a failed drug screening are determined by the employer. 
DOT jobs require a return-to-duty and follow-up drug test Employers choose whether to administer a return-to-duty and follow-up drug test

Non-DOT Drug Test Procedure

As we’ve already established, there is no single authority that regulates non-DOT drug screening. Therefore, screening procedures will vary from organization to organization. A company’s drug and alcohol testing policy will define aspects such as:

  • Frequency of testing
  • Drugs tested for
  • Scenarios where testing is required 

Most employers opt for the standard 5-panel urine drug test. However, some companies may choose to administer more comprehensive tests that detect the presence of prescription medication. You may also come across tests that require hair, saliva, or blood samples.

Employers will usually hire a laboratory to screen employees or potential hires for drug use. You’re then required to go to a collection site to submit your sample. In some cases, the lab will send out personnel and equipment, and samples are collected at the work premises. 

Before you submit the sample, technicians will check to ensure that you’re not up to anything dodgy. Again, you will encounter varying levels of scrutiny. 

Once the specimen is collected, it’s shipped off to the lab for testing. Negative results are typically out within 24 hours. In case of a positive drug screen, a second confirmatory test is conducted to verify the results. 

What Drugs Are Tested?

If you’re anticipating a drug test it’s only natural to question: what does a non-DOT urine drug screen test for? That answer depends on the type of drug screening that is administered.

The 5-panel urine test is the most common type of non-DOT drug screen. It detects the presence of five classes of commonly abused illicit substances including:

  • Marijuana 
  • Amphetamines 
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates 

Unlike DOT testing, non-DOT drug screening is not limited to the 5-panel test. You might come across simpler tests, such as a 3 or 4-panel test, that screen for fewer substances. Some establishments will also go for more comprehensive tests such as a 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, or 14-panel drug test. In addition to the substances detected by a 5-panel screen, these advanced panel tests can indicate the abuse or misuse of:

  • Barbiturates 
  • Benzodiazepines 
  • Methadone 
  • Methaqualone 
  • Propoxyphene 
  • Oxycodone 
  • Ecstasy 

The Most Common Non-DOT Drug Situations

There are multiple reasons for non-DOT drug and alcohol testing. These include:

Pre-employment Drug Test

Pre-employment drug testing involves screening potential hires for substance use. Companies utilize this procedure to keep habitual users out of the work environment. 

Post-accident Drug Test

So, you’re involved in a slip and fall at your workplace. It results in an injury that will require medical treatment. Since the fall occurred on company premises, the standard course of action is to file a claim for worker’s compensation. However, there is a reasonable possibility that you were intoxicated at the time of the incident. Your employer would, therefore, administer a post-accident drug screening to determine if drugs caused or contributed to the fall. 

Random Drug Test

With random drug testing, employees are picked for screening through an arbitrary selection process. Due to their nature, random drug screens are harder to prepare for. 

Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test

Let’s say an employee comes to work with bloodshot eyes or needle marks on their skin. Perhaps they’re also irritable, slurring their speech, or even aggressive. In such a situation, a supervisor who notices these traits can request a reasonable suspicion drug test check

Return-to-duty Drug Test

So, you’ve taken and failed a workplace drug screen. You’ve then completed a treatment program as per your employer’s directive, and you’d like to resume work. A return-to-duty test may be administered to verify that you’re no longer on drugs. 

Probationary Drug Test

As a condition of your probation, the court may require that you refrain from substance abuse and misuse. Your probation officer would, therefore, administer period drug tests to ensure that your observing these conditions.


A common question amongst employees and applicants is – who covers the costs associated with workplace drug screening? 

You’ll be relieved to know that the employer is responsible for all drug testing costs. In most companies, screening takes place during working hours. Therefore, employees are also compensated for their time at their usual rate. 

Some employers will also cover transport costs for tests not conducted on company premises.  

How to Pass a Non-DOT Drug Test?

A foolproof way of passing a non-DOT drug test is to stop using in the weeks leading up to your screening. This allows for enough time for your body to naturally detox. 

However, in most cases, you’ll have inadequate time to prepare for a drug test. This is especially the case if you’re a habitual or chronic user. We’ve compiled some of the most common and effective solutions to beat a drug test. 

Lemon Water

Lemons are a common ingredient in detox products. It’s, therefore, no surprise that lemon water is helpful for people preparing for a drug test. 

This home remedy involves mixing lemon juice with water and drinking the solution in the hours leading up to your test. The lemon water will help you urinate more frequently. This will, in turn, reduce the concentration of drug metabolites in your pee. If you have light exposure to drug toxins, there is a good chance that the concentration of metabolites will fall below the non-DOT drug test cutoff levels in 2023

There is a risk of over-diluting your urine if you drink too much lemon water.  

Baking Soda

Most of us have baking soda readily available in our kitchens. This versatile ingredient is not only useful as a baking and cleaning agent, but it can also help you cheat a drug screen. 

The active ingredient in baking soda is an alkali called sodium bicarbonate. Drinking a baking soda solution will therefore raise your urine’s pH. Now, the kidneys are designed to eliminate alkaline substances such as sodium bicarbonate and drug toxins. If you ingest baking soda, the kidneys are forced to prioritize the removal of the competing alkali, sodium bicarbonate. This creates a window where the levels of drug residues in your urine fall below the detectable levels. 

Certo Sure Jell

Kraft Heinz manufactures Certo Sure Jell which is a brand of fruit pectin. This product has been in the market since 1912, and it is used to make jam, jellies, and other edibles. However, people have found an unconventional use for Certo Sure Jell – passing THC urine drug tests.

Fruit Pectin is viscous and good at jelling. Ingesting Certo Sure Jell makes THC metabolites less water soluble. They are, therefore, eliminated from the body through excretion rather than urination. For a couple of hours, your pee will consequently be free from drug toxins. Certo Sure Jell is typically used in combination with Gatorade, a multivitamin, vitamin B2 pill, and creatinine monohydrate. 

Toxin Rid

Toxin Rid is a proven drug testing solution that is ideal for users looking to avoid the guesswork associated with home remedies. Users are matched to a suitable detox program depending on their weight, level of toxin exposure, and how much time they have to prepare for the screening. 

Toxin Rid detox systems consist of natural minerals, herbs, and vitamins. These components work together to eliminate drug metabolites from your body effectively. You can complete a 1 to 10-day program for a clean urine sample. 

If you’re anticipating a hair drug test instead, you can purchase the widely popular Old Style Aloe Toxin Rid shampoo.  


Is Toxin Rid detectable?

No. Toxin Rid is a detox program that entirely consists of natural ingredients. It helps flush out toxins from the body before a urine drug test. 

Does a failed DOT drug test show up on a background check?

No. A failed DOT drug test will not come up in a background check. However, employers may see it if they look through the FMCSA clearinghouse database.

How long does it take for Toxin Rid to get rid to eliminate toxins?

It depends on the level of toxicity. The 1-day detox program is recommended for the lightest levels of toxin exposure while the 10-day program can help to detox from heavy THC exposure.

Does a non-DOT drug test for alcohol?

The short answer is yes. While alcohol testing is not a requirement of non-DOT testing, the employer may choose to have the testing lab screen for it.  

Can I be fired from my job for having a medical marijuana card?

For the most part, no. However, depending on state laws and the nature of your work, an employer may be within their rights to fire a medical marijuana user.  


You’re now more familiar with what non-DOT drug tests are, the substances they screen for, and the different scenarios where they may be administered. And while there are major differences between DOT and non-DOT drug screening, both of them are meant to maintain a drug-free workforce. 

If you need to prepare for a drug screen, you can enlist home remedies or specialized products such as Toxin Rid to help you beat the test.