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Understanding the DOT 5 Panel Drug Test – What Is It?

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DOT 5 Panel Drug Test

The Department of Transportation (DOT) provides different regulations to ensure employees and organizations comply with the safety regulations when undertaking their duties. It also recommends various protocols to test for drug use amongst employees. One of the tools it recommends for organizations to do drug tests is the DOT 5 Panel Drug Test kit.

It is one of organizations and laboratories’ most popular test kits. Apart from its definition, there are many other facts to learn about the kit, its usage, and its significance to the organization. Here are some details and facts you need to know about DOT 5-panel drug test.

DOT 5 Panel Drug Test

What drugs does it detect?

The five-panel drug test is a drug test kit recommended by federal agencies to test for the presence of drugs in the body. The name originates from the capability to identify or detect the five most abused drugs. The 5-Panel regimen is relevant for determining the following substances:

  • The test is used to detect the presence of THC, the most common compound found in cannabis users.
  • To test for the presence of Cocaine, the panel uses a metabolite called Benzoylecgonine.
  • Amphetamines include potent sympathomimetic agents, such as Methamphetamine, MDMA, MDA, and MDEA. It can test for the presence of drugs such as Molly and Ecstasy
  • Opiates including Codeine, Morphine, 6-AM (heroin), Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, and Oxymorphone
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Where can you do the DOT panel testing?

If you are interested in quality results, a few laboratories are certified to rely on for the best test results. These laboratories must meet certification guidelines provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Besides, the labs must meet the Department of Transportation (DOT) policies and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

DOT 5 Panel Drug Test

The testing and screening process

Anytime you visit the labs or contact the labs for drug tests, you should anticipate a two-step process. The first process involves screening the provided sample using immunoassay technology. This test is qualitative, meaning the results are either positive or negative. If the urine sample tests negative, the screening officer will provide the results to the Medical Review Officer, who will mail or tell you the results.

The positive results will also be submitted to the MRO for further tests, which are significant in determining the elements contributing to the positive results. The goal is also to identify the drug quantity or concentration in the sample. The process is extensive and includes a variety of metabolites to determine the exact drugs in the sample.

How accurate are the tests?

These tests are highly accurate in determining drug abuse cases. Studies reveal that the panel is ideal for screening different samples to produce 81% accurate results. But there are cases when the panel is ineffective in delivering the best results or detecting the drugs.

Such incidents occur when you use a fake panel or visit labs using outdated panels. The panel can also detect the presence of illicit substances used 90 days before the actual drug test. Therefore, you must stop using the drugs 90 days before the actual drug test day to avoid positive results.

Before conducting any test or contracting the labs to do the test, you need to ensure they are certified and have the right tools to produce the most accurate results.

Moreover, organizations should not allow employees to conduct their tests but monitor the process by hiring a lab and communicating the results to the company HR instead of the employees. The laboratory must also have a positive reputation to ensure they do not collude with the employees.

What is the purpose of the DOT 5-panel drug test?

There are many reasons why the organization or an individual may need to conduct the DOT 5-panel test. The first is to ensure compliance with the federal (DOT & DHSS) regulations about drugs. These rules ensure that the company employees do not use drugs at work.

The panel tests are also significant for saving the organization from incurring liabilities associated with damages and accidents. All employees must be sane and free from drugs while undertaking their duties. This prevents specific errors, mistakes, and injuries that may cost the organization fines and liability fees.

It is also significant in investigations in case of accidents. The authorities will have to establish whether the driver was under the influence of drugs. This will help rule out or confirm the cause of the accident and determine who was liable for the damages.

DOT 5 Panel Drug Test

When should you do the DOT5 panel test?

Organizations have the freedom to do the tests at any time. The organization can do the tests based on the DOT regulations or schedule the test based on the internal policies and drug regulations. The DOT states that the organization can conduct tests:

  • When the employee returns from the leave
  • When an employee behaves suspiciously
  • Post-accident drug testing
  • Pre-employment testing, especially for sensitive jobs
  • Duration-based drug testing, i.e., quarterly, semiannually, and annually. The duration should be based on the organization’s guidelines and regulations.


While planning for the tests, you need to ensure you visit authorized and legalized labs to conduct the test. These labs have the correct kits to deliver quality results and detect the listed drugs. The equipment can help identify opiates, marijuana, Phencyclidine cocaine, and amphetamines.

The test can also help you determine if the employee used the drug recently or in the past, i.e., three months ago. Implementing a drug testing technique is critical to help organizations ensure workplace security.


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