If you’re planning to attend a CDL school to qualify for your commercial driver’s license (CDL) you may be wondering “Do CDL schools drug test?” The answer is, yes. As a trainee truck driver, you’ll be in charge of a large commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and to operate a CMV safely, you must be sober and alert at all times.
Drug testing of CDL drivers is mandated by federal law.
Do CDL Schools Drug Test in 2023?
Before you’re allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle like a tractor-trailer, you must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved drug test.
Because you’ll drive a CMV on public roads during your CDL training program, the CDL school has to carry out drug testing on all trainees.
There isn’t any way to get around the drug testing requirement, so it’s vital to make sure you’re clean before you enroll in a trucking school.
Using drugs isn’t compatible with being a truck driver. Failed driver drug tests are recorded on a national database called the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (DAC).
When you receive your CDL learner’s permit, you must register with the DAC. A positive drug or alcohol test result while you’re in the CDL program will be recorded in the database.
When Do CDL Schools Drug Test?
Trucking schools carry out drug testing during the enrollment process and then randomly during the training program.
- You’ll need to pass a drug test before the CDL school will accept you into their program.
- You’ll need to pass random drug tests during the program.
As a truck driver, random drug tests will become a regular part of your life. Unlike many employers who only use pre-employment drug testing, federal law requires trucking companies to carry out random drug testing on their CDL drivers.
CDL schools use this approach for trainee drivers as well. You’ll be tested without warning during the CDL program to ensure you remain sober and unimpaired. You may be randomly tested once or multiple times.
What Kind Of Drug Tests Do CDL Schools Use?
When your CDL school asks you to take a drug test, the test will usually be a DOT-approved urinalysis. Until recently, urinalysis was the only DOT-approved drug testing method.
For a urinalysis, you provide a urine sample at a collection site. Your sample is then analyzed at a drug testing laboratory certified by the Department of Transportation. Urine collection for the drug test is unobserved, so you can use the restroom in private, but to combat cheating, urine sample temperature, and color are checked right away.
New DOT drug testing rules effective from June 1st, 2023 also allow oral fluid testing.
Oral fluid testing is more commonly known as a saliva drug test or mouth swab drug test. For this kind of drug test, you hold an absorbent swab in your mouth while it collects your saliva. Then the swab is placed in a secure collection tube and sent to a DOT-certified lab for analysis.
You don’t get to choose which kind of drug test you want to take. That decision is made by the CDL school and is set out in their drug testing policy.
Some schools may also run a more thorough hair follicle drug test as well as the mandated DOT-approved drug test.
Because each of these testing methods has a different detection window, it’s important to find out which type of drug test is in use at the CDL school you’re planning to attend.
- Saliva drug tests have the shortest detection window (up to 72 hours depending on the drug).
- Urine tests can detect opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines for 4 days, phencyclidine for 14 days, and marijuana for up to 90 days depending on the level of use.
- Hair follicle testing can reveal drug use for up to 6 months.
Which Drugs Do CDL Schools Test For?
For the mandated drug test, your CDL school will check your urine or saliva sample for the illegal substances specified by the Department of Transportation.
The DOT drug test currently checks for:
- Amphetamine and Methamphetamine
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
The opioids tested for are codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.
Depending on the policy of the CDL school, you may also be tested for additional substances.
Some CDL schools are owned by or affiliated with large trucking companies that may require this additional testing.
Do CDL Schools Test For Marijuana In Legal States?
Even though many states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and/or personal use, marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law.
Drug testing for CDL drivers is mandated by federal law and you will be tested for marijuana use no matter which state you’re training in.
Having a medical marijuana card won’t help you pass a DOT drug test. As far as the rules are concerned, you cannot drive a commercial motor vehicle if a drug test finds the marijuana metabolite “THC” in your system.
What Happens If You Fail A CDL School Drug Test?
When your urine or saliva arrives at the lab, it’s divided into two samples. If the first sample returns a positive result for an illegal substance, then a confirmatory test is carried out on the second sample.
If the confirmatory test is positive, your results are passed to a medical review officer (MRO). The MRO will contact you to find out about any lawfully obtained medications you take.
Sometimes a prescription drug or an over-the-counter medication can affect drug test results and cause a false positive.
If your positive result is due to medication, your result will be changed to negative. However, if the medication in question causes impairment, you won’t be allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle while you’re taking that medication.
When there isn’t a medical reason for a positive drug test result, you’ll fail the test and you won’t be able to enroll with the CDL school.
If you’re already in a CDL program and you fail a random drug test, you won’t be able to continue with the course and your positive result will be reported to the federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
The Clearinghouse database is maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, and all employers are required to check the database before hiring a new driver. Your failed drug test will remain on the database for at least 5 years, and employers may decide not to hire you because of your recorded drug use.
To continue with CDL training after a positive drug test, you’ll need to complete a Substance Abuse Program (SAP) at your own expense. SAPs take at least 12 months to complete and there are multiple drug tests during the program. A completed SAP will also be recorded at the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
Even with a completed SAP, there’s no guarantee a CDL school will accept you into another training program.
Will New Employers Also Require A Drug Test?
Yes. Employers are legally required to obtain a negative drug test for all new CDL drivers. Even though you passed the drug tests during your CDL training program, you’ll have to take a new pre-employment drug test whenever you apply for a CDL job.
As a CDL truck driver, you’ll also be subject to random drug tests, reasonable suspicion drug tests, and post-accident drug testing.
Do CDL Schools drug test? Yes. Trainee CDL drivers cannot operate commercial motor vehicles unless they’ve passed a drug test.
Drug tests are usually urine tests, although oral fluid tests have recently been approved for DOT testing purposes. Some CDL schools may also carry out an additional hair follicle drug test.
Once you’re in a CDL program, you’ll be subject to random drug testing throughout the training period. If you fail a drug test, you won’t be able to continue your training program, and your drug test result will be recorded on the DAC database.
Failing a drug test will stop your CDL training in its tracks. If you want a career as a CDL driver, you’ll need to give up using drugs.
See Also: Can you get a CDL with a Felony on your record?
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