Last updated: November 27, 2023
While some employees are not worried about drug tests because they simply don’t use drugs, others are understandably worried when the time comes to take their test. And when those people fail, one of the first questions they often ask is “how long does the DOT store drug test results?”
Before we get into the answer, let’s first explain who is required to participate in a DOT drug testing program, and what that program looks like.
Keeping the highways and byways safe for all to travel is a huge responsibility. DOT regulations placed on employers who operate trucking businesses play a big part in our safe passage.
The Department of Transportation was created to improve public safety when traveling by any means. Or, when those working safety-sensitive jobs come into contact with the general public in other ways.
The six industries that fall under DOT regulation are:
In 1988, the government added a drug-free policy to the DOT’s protocol. It includes drug testing for all those employed in safety-sensitive industries.
Post-accident drug tests are essential in helping to determine the cause of an accident. Finally, reasonable suspicion and return-to-duty drug tests are in the DOT’s zero-tolerance policy.
What about that paper trail
The majority of employees are probably only going to take two of the drug tests. First taking the pre-employment drug test is certain. And, then they will retake the test if their name pops up on the random list along the way.
Still, in all, that’s a lot of people taking drug tests!
The DOT keeps track of more than just the employee test result, including:
- both positive and negative test results,
- records showing the administration of the testing process,
- return-to-duty administration process,
- and employee and supervisor training records.
All of those records must remain in a controlled-access area.
The DOT requires employers to keep paper records. All records must stay in a locked file cabinet, preferably separate from employee records. You can store a second copy of test records electronically. However, the files must be password protected.
Some employers choose for a consortium or TPA (Third Party Administrator) to take charge of their record keeping. But, ultimately, it is the employer’s responsibility to comply with DOT’s regulations.
With all of those records to maintain, you can imagine how that paper stacks up over time.
Admittedly, the testing data doesn’t remain in the office forever. But how long do we keep it?
Drug detection times aren’t the only things that vary
It depends on the individual transportation industry as to how long to store different records. The minimum amount of time to save a particular document is one year. However, some records related to drug and alcohol testing remain on file for five years.
Let’s break it down.
All industries, except the railroad, keep negative drug test results and alcohol test results less than .02% for one year.
All transportation industries store the records related to the alcohol and drug collection process for two years.
The airline and railroad industries store their education records for two years. And, the pipeline industry stores its alcohol training records for that long.
Lastly, the railroad industry stores negative drug test results, alcohol test results that are less than .02%, and employee dispute records for two years.
Employer records are kept for three years.
All transportation industries maintain the following records for five years:
- Employee evaluation and referrals to SAPs
- Follow-up tests and follow-up schedules
- Refusals to test
- Alcohol test results 0.02 or greater
- Verified positive drug test results
All but the Maritime industry submit an annual report to the DOT. The Management Information Systems Report tracks testing activity and results.
The trucking and pipeline industries maintain EBT calibration records for a total of five years.
And, the airline industry keeps the negative drug and alcohol test results for pilots for five years. It also holds on to employee dispute records for this length of time.
Practice the purge, please
Making sure you dispose of old records is a wise idea. You maximize available storage space. And, while compliance is serious business, there’s no need to cringe when you see the DOT auditor walk in the door! Having current records on file will make your DOT safety audits and compliance reviews a breeze. When auditors don’t have to wade through additional documents, it speeds up the process considerably.
Compliance is vital to the livelihood of your business. Thus, maintaining accurate alcohol and drug testing records is part of that package.