What Is The Most Common Non-DOT Drug Screen?

Drug testing is becoming increasingly common in many industries. While the most common type of drug screening is done by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to comply with federal regulations, there are many other types of non-DOT drug screens that employers may choose to use.

In this article, we will explore the most common non-DOT drug screens, what they are used for, and some key considerations for employers.

What is a Non-DOT Drug Screen?

A non-DOT drug screen is a type of drug test that does not follow the requirements set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Non-DOT drug screens can be conducted in both federally regulated and unregulated environments and typically involve urine or saliva testing for drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, MDMA, PCP, and amphetamines. Non-DOT drug screens do not include tests for alcohol.

Common Uses for Non-DOT Drug Screening

Non-DOT drug screening is often used to detect whether an employee or job candidate has used illegal drugs in the past. Employers may also use non-DOT screenings to determine if current employees are using drugs at work.

Non-DOT drug screens can also be used to determine if an employee has recently ingested a drug or taken a drug before work that could impair their ability to perform safely on the job.

Types of Non-DOT Drug Tests

1. Urine Test

Urine testing is one of the most common types of non-DOT drug screenings. It is relatively quick and easy to administer and can detect recent use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, MDMA, PCP, and amphetamines.

The results from urine tests usually take about 24 hours to be reported back to the employer and can usually detect drugs within the last two weeks.

2. Saliva Test

Saliva testing is another popular type of non-DOT drug screen that employers use to test for recent drug use. Saliva tests are usually more expensive than urine tests but offer faster results; results from saliva tests can usually be reported back within 24 hours or less.

Saliva tests are also much less invasive than urine tests as they only require a small sample of saliva from an individual’s mouth, which can easily be collected by swabbing their cheeks or gums with a cotton swab. Additionally, saliva tests can detect drugs within minutes or hours after ingestion as opposed to days or weeks like urine tests.

3. Hair Follicle Test

Hair follicle testing is a less common type of non-DOT drug screen that employers sometimes use due to its accuracy in detecting long-term patterns of drug usage over time.

Hair follicle tests typically require a sample of hair taken from an individual’s head or body which is then sent off to a laboratory for analysis; results from hair follicle tests generally take about 5 days to report back and can detect drugs used up to 90 days prior.

However, hair follicle tests are significantly more expensive than other forms of non-DOT screening, so they are not typically used as often as other forms, such as urine or saliva testing.

4. Sweat Patch Test

Sweat patch testing is another type of non-DOT screening that employers may choose to use due to its accuracy in detecting recent substance abuse over longer periods of time (typically up to two weeks).

Sweat patches are usually applied directly onto an individual’s skin which collects sweat containing trace amounts of certain drugs over time; the patches are then sent off to a laboratory where they can be tested for various substances like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines with results typically taking about 5 days to report back.

However, sweat patch testing is very expensive and not commonly used due to its high cost and long turnaround times for results.

Expanded Non-DOT Drug Screens

In addition to the 5-panel test, there are also expanded versions such as 10-panel and 12-panel tests. These tests look for additional substances beyond those tested in a 5-panel test, including barbiturates, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Valium), propoxyphene (Darvon), methadone, Quaaludes, and more.

Employers may opt to use these expanded versions if they want to be more comprehensive in their testing process or if they believe that certain employees may be using additional illicit substances not detected by the 5-panel test. 

Synthetic Cannabinoids & Other Newer Substances

Many employers are now turning to newer tests that look for synthetic cannabinoids and other newer substances like fentanyl or “bath salts” (synthetic stimulants). These new tests allow employers to stay ahead of emerging trends in substance abuse and ensure that their workplace remains safe and compliant with regulations.

Key Considerations for Employers Conducting Non-DOT Drug Screens

When deciding whether or not to conduct non-DOT drug screenings on employees or job candidates, there are several key factors employers should consider:


Non-DOT screenings can range significantly in price depending on the type being conducted, so it’s important for employers to research all available options before making a decision as some forms, like hair follicle testing, can be very expensive while others, like urine testing, maybe more affordable but also less accurate when detecting certain substances over long periods of time; 


As with all types of medical procedures, it’s important for employers conducting non-DOT screenings on their employees or job candidates to adhere strictly to privacy regulations in order to ensure all information remains confidential;

Legal Compliance:

Employers should always consult with legal professionals before implementing any new type of non-DOT screening program, as some states have specific laws regarding employee rights during such procedures; 


Different types of non-DOT screenings have different levels of accuracy when it comes to detecting certain substances, so it’s important for employers to know exactly what each test is intended to measure before making any decisions; 

Once all is set and done, check out for training specimen collectors in your organization


In conclusion, there are several types of non-DOT drug screens that employers may choose from depending on their needs, including urine tests, saliva tests, hair follicle tests, and sweat patch tests, among others.

Each type has its own pros and cons when it comes to cost-effectiveness and accuracy so it’s important for employers to understand what each option entails before making any decisions regarding their company’s policy toward employee/candidate drug screening.

Additionally, there are several key factors employers should consider, such as cost-effectiveness, privacy concerns, and legal compliance, before implementing any new program, so it’s important they consult with professionals who specialize in such matters whenever possible before making any decisions regarding their company’s policy towards employee/candidate drug screening programs. 

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Written by Grace

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