Will CBD Show Up On A DOT Drug Test?

The Department of Transportation, also known as DOT, is a government agency responsible for transportation. Planes, trains and automobiles (and boats too)… DOT covers it all. 

Anyone who knows a driver, pilot or ship captain knows it is not an easy job. Long and strange hours, with either little or no social interaction, or overstimulated and stressful social interactions (think public bus driver…), DOT drivers are subject to a lot of stress. 

Sitting for long hours, staying up all night, and eating on the go, all spell for a potentially unhealthy lifestyle. For that reason, it is no wonder that many DOT drivers are seeking CBD to relieve symptoms such as pain, sleeplessness, fatigue, depression, and anxiety (just to name a few…). 

But what about CBD and the standard DOT drug tests? Can CBD cause a driver to fail their test? 

Well, to answer the question simply (and open-endedly)… It depends… First we will have to describe the nature of CBD, THC, and Drug Tests.

The Different Types of CBD and Why CBD Helps Your Symptoms…

CBD is the active compound found in hemp. It will not get you high. It is like taking an advil. After about 20-60 minutes, people generally feel the beneficial effects, although it may take 2-4 weeks of consistent use to really see the benefits.

CBD works on your endocannabinoid system, which is a branch of your nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for a wide variety of functions in your body. More on that here. The long and short of it is, that CBD is able to have a diverse “cure-all” type effect for some people, due to its beneficial effects on your endocannabinoid system.

There are 3 Main “Types” of CBD:

  • Full Spectrum CBD – This has all the good stuff from hemp – CBD, THC, CBG, and CBN (all cannabinoids), as well as flavonoids and other plant compounds. This type of oil has >0.3% THC. It is by far the most effective oil, due to the “entourage effect”. This effect is basically when all the above compounds work in synergy to complement and enhance each other’s effects (the way nature intended…).

  • Broad Spectrum CBD This oil is the same as full spectrum, BUT it has had THC removed. Assuming the manufacturing process is done properly and professionally (unfortunately, this is not always the case…), then this oil will be zero THC. Users will receive all the effects of the “entourage effect”, minus THC.


  • CBD Isolate – This is pure CBD. Nothing else (if it’s been made properly). Sometimes companies will add other terpenes or cannabinoids back in, but generally it is just pure CBD. This tends to be the cheapest oil, and the least effective, because users are missing out on the “entourage effect”.



What Type Of CBD Is Right For Me…?

If you want the benefits of CBD without the risk of testing positive for THC, then you definitely want to avoid full spectrum oils. We suggest spending more and getting a broad spectrum oil, but if you’re on a budget, go for CBD isolate.

Make sure that you get your Zero THC CBD from a reputable brand. This means a brand that can provide certificates of analysis, and can answer your questions about sourcing, quality, production, etc. 

Reputable brands will also have social media accounts, and contact information like telephone numbers, contact forms, or email addresses. If you can’t talk to a knowledgeable staff member directly, then don’t trust the company. 


Which DOT Employees Are Required To Take A Drug Test?

Any DOT designated as a “safety-sensitive” employee is subject to DOT drug tests. These are employees who hold a job that can impact both personal and public safety.

Some of the DOT safety-sensitive positions include:

      • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: Operations, maintenance, and emergency response workers.
      • Federal Aviation Administration – Flight crews / attendants, aircraft dispatchers, ground security coordinators
      • Federal Transit Administration: Vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics, and armed security.
      • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Commercial Driver’s Licence holders who operate commercial motor vehicles, vehicles that carry 16 or more passengers, or vehicles transporting hazardous materials.
      • Federal Railroad Administration: Hours of Service Act personnel, engine & train workers, signal service workers, or train dispatchers.
      • U.S. Coast Guard Crew Members

When Are Employees Required To Take DOT Drug Tests?

DOT employees will be drug tested under the following conditions:

      • Pre-Employment – or before you start your new job.
      • Reasonable suspicion/cause – If one or more of your trained supervisors has reasonable beliefs or suspicions you are under the influence of drugs, based on observations related to appearance, behavior, speech, smell, etc.
      • Random Testing – Random tests are completed quarterly and it is like a DOT drug testing “lottery” – Which means all employees have an equal chance to be selected.
      • Return-to-duty testing – This is required after a violation of drug or alcohol rules. These tests are done under direct supervision, and will occur unannounced at least 6 times during your first 12 months back on duty.
      • Follow-up testing – This takes place after your return-to-duty. These are conducted in addition to other standard DOT drug testing. They are continued for up to 5 years upon your return-to-duty.
      • Post-accident testing – this is required if you have been in an accident that meets certain DOT criteria. 

What Happens If You Fail A DOT Drug Test…

If you fail a DOT drug test, you will have to go through an extensive return-to-duty process. It is a headache, and you don’t want to have to experience this…

This process includes being assigned to a DOT-certified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), who will evaluate you and guide you through a type of “rehab” program. Once you complete the program, and the SAP approves you, then you will be routinely tested for up to 5 years about returning to duty.

If you fail a pre-employment drug test, and you are new to the DOT, you may be hard pressed to get a job in the future. It is not worth the risk.

Will CBD Show Up On A DOT Drug Test?

So… The question we have all been waiting for… Will CBD show up on a DOT Drug Test? Well, like we said it depends.

DOT Drug tests use the same standard 5-panel urine test. 

These tests look for: 

  • Marijuana – THC/THCa
  • Cocaine metabolites
  • Amphetamines (including methamphetamine, MDMA)
  • Opioids* (including codeine, heroin (6-AM), morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Because tests look for THC/THCa, then if you are taking a full spectrum oil, there is a chance you will fail the test. This is because there is >0.3% THC. Although the amount of THC is small, it is enough for some people to fail.

The chances of failing a DOT drug test with full spectrum CBD will depend on how long you have been taking the oil (THC builds up in your body over a period of 30 days), as well as your metabolism, and other genetic / individual factors such as frequency of exercise. 

A recent study showed that full spectrum CBD can trigger false positives on DOT-type drug tests. The study showed that CBD isolate triggered only one false positive out of 218 results (0.5% chance of failing). The study did not look at broad spectrum oils. However anecdotally, broad spectrum appears similar to CBD isolate.

For that reason, if you take Broad Spectrum CBD or CBD isolate, you can enjoy the benefits of CBD without the risk of testing positive for THC. That being said, you are still taking CBD at your own risk. No company or article (including Patriot CBD) can guarantee you will not pass a DOT drug test taking zero THC CBD. This is due to legal liabilities. 

In Conclusion…

CBD will not show up on a DOT drug test, but THC will. Therefore, if you are a “safety sensitive” DOT employee, you will want to avoid all Full Spectrum CBD products – read the label very carefully. 

Look for Broad Spectrum or CBD isolate products instead. CBD isolate will be a safer bet than broad spectrum, however anecdotally there does not appear to be more of a risk in taking broad spectrum, due to the absence of THC. 

Remember, if you are DOT “safety-sensitive employee” you will be routinely drug tested, so take CBD at your own risk.