What are the cutoff levels for non-DOT drug tests?

Q:

What are the cutoff levels for non-DOT drug tests?

A:

Industries that fall outside of the Department of Transportation (DOT) have a range of options to explore and consider when it comes to their workplace drug testing program.

They may opt to follow DOT's 5 panel drug testing program. Alternatively, they have a number of other options to explore such as a 4-panel, non-DOT 5 panel, 7-panel, or even 10-panel, 12-panel and 15-panel tests. The number of "panels" identifies how many substances are tested for. Selecting a 12-panel test allows for testing of the widest range of substances. However, a company should select the drug testing program that best suits their needs.

The cutoff level for a non-DOT drug test refers to a specified level of a drug which is detected in a person's body as a result of the drug testing process. If any of the specified substance is detected but the result is below the "cutoff" levels, the test will be considered negative. The substances that are detected and are found to be at or above the cutoff levels will yield a positive test result.

Drug cutoff levels vary depending on the substance being tested, so each drug in the panel will have a different cutoff level. The cutoff level takes into account the possibility of passive exposure which could result in a small amount of drug being detected in a person's system.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They offer guidelines and resources for drug-free workplaces. Below is a list of the common substances that may be detected in a non-DOT drug test. The cutoff levels are listed, according to SAMHSA guidelines. Note that cutoff levels may change for each drug over time.

  1. Marijuana/cannabis - 50 ng/mL (initial test); THCA - 15 ng/mL (confirmatory test)
  2. Cocaine - 150 ng/mL (initial test); Benzoylecgonine - 100 ng/mL (confirmatory test)
  3. Opiates (codeine/morphine) - 2000 ng/mL
  4. 6-Acetylmorphine - 10 ng/mL
  5. Phencyclidine - 25 ng/mL
  6. Amphetamines AMP/MAMP - 500 ng/mL (initial test); Amphetamine 250 ng/mL, Methamphetamine 250 ng/mL (confirmatory test)
  7. MDMA - 500 ng/mL (initial test); MDMA - 250 ng/mL, MDA - 250 ng/mL MDEA - 250 ng/mL (confirmatory test)


Have a question? Ask John here.

View all questions from John Hawes.

Share this:
Written by John Hawes
Profile Picture of John Hawes

John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

  Full Bio