Failed Dot Drug Test? Here’s What to Do Next


American workers are failing drug tests at a rate higher than ever before.

No matter your job, failing a drug test can lead to serious ramifications, but the stakes can be even higher for those subject to drug tests by the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

Because your behavior can be viewed as reckless, it means you’re a risk when you’re out driving on the road.

So, what happens if you have a failed DOT drug test? Is there anything you can do, or is your career over?

We’re here to help.

Keep reading to learn what happens if you fail a DOT drug test and the steps to take in the aftermath.

What Now?

First of all, try to stay calm. We know this is a stressful time, but the truth is that you’re not the first person to have a failed DOT drug test, and you won’t be the last.

While your employer must keep a record of all test failures in a database, keep in mind that it won’t go on your public record or show up in future background checks.

And fortunately, after one failed drug test, you most likely won’t lose your license.

You will, however, be taken off your driving duty until you’re able to complete the required steps to get back to work. And your individual employer may have additional consequences.

What to Do After Failing a DOT Drug Test

Once you’ve failed a DOT drug test, there’s nothing to do but start the process to move forward. The more commitment you show in the recovery process, the more likely you’ll be back on the road, doing your job.

Talk to Your Supervisor

Once you’re notified about your failed test, it’s a good idea to reach out to your supervisor. Be honest and own your actions. It will go a lot further than trying to make excuses for why you failed.

Go Through a Substance Abuse Program 

In order to get back on the road, the DOT requires you to complete a substance abuse program. During this time, you’ll meet with a substance abuse professional (SAP) and undergo an SAP evaluation.

You’ll then go through a prescribed treatment plan that includes counseling. The level of therapy you receive varies based on your individual circumstances.

Take a Return-to-Duty Test

Once you’ve satisfied the requirements for the substance abuse program, you’ll need to pass a return-to-duty test.

This includes both a urine and breath alcohol test. Keep in mind that these are observed tests.

Ongoing Requirements

Once you pass your return-to-duty test, you can get back on the road. However, you’ll continue to receive random, observed drug tests. And you can receive additional testing based on suspicion of drug or alcohol use.

A Failed DOT Drug Test Is Not the End

When you have a failed DOT drug test, it can feel like your career is over. However, by following the steps outlined above, you can get back on the road safely and start to build back trust with your supervisor.

For more advice on how to thrive in your career, be sure to browse through our other articles today.