Does Background Check Include Drug Test?

To identify whether a candidate is a good fit or a rotten apple, many companies conduct background checks. This may include criminal records, education history, and more, but does background check include drug test?

Background checks might seem to be a simple process, but there are many nuances to it. So, if you are applying for a job for the first time and are concerned about how things will go, then this guide is for you!

Does Background Check Include Drug Test

Why Companies Do Drug Tests?

Companies realize the importance of drug tests as they have found that employees who use drugs often pose problems such as absenteeism, injury in the workplace, poor work quality, etc.

All these things lead to a loss of income for the business, and it also compromises the safety of other employees and a poor office environment.

This is the reason why companies that do not compulsorily require drug tests still go for it.

Does Background Check Include Drug Test?

Background Check Include Drug Test

Whether or not drug testing is a part of a pre-employment background check is upto the discretion of the company.

Plenty of jobs in America do not require drug testing as per the law. In fact, many local and state government prohibits or limits drug testing in certain areas. However, a drug test may be required by federal or state regulations for some jobs.

You can find the federal guidelines on drug testing in the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. While private companies are not compulsorily required to follow these guidelines, the government still advises companies to use these protocols when forming a drug testing policy for employment.

Whether a company chooses to do drug testing or not is upto them, but a majority of them still require a background check. A background check can reveal information like criminal history, credit history, education, family background, etc.

Jobs That Require Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Government and state jobs, along with jobs in the healthcare industry, are some of the most common profession that requires pre-employment drug testing.

Additionally, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has strict guidelines and rules, as outlined in section 49 CFR, part 40that outlines drug and alcohol screening in workplaces. This applies to all the companies that operate in the federally regulated transportation industry.

As far as drug testing in private sector jobs is concerned, a drug test is only needed if the job role involves working around sensitive groups such as the specially-abled, elderly, or children or if the job requires working around dangerous machinery.

Here’s a list of employment places that will most probably require a pre-employment drug test:

  • Healthcare jobs
  • Education related jobs
  • Department of Transportation Positions
  • Trucking Industry
  • Jobs involving use of dangerous equipment (Such as Lowes or Home Depot)
  • Certain Government Positions
  • Delivery and Driving-related jobs (Such as UPS, FedEx, etc.)
  • US Postal Service
  • Jobs that involve working around regulated food (like some grocery stores, food processing plants, and food product manufacturers)

The average number of jobs in the United States that require pre-employment drug testing is only around 2%.

Jobs That Do Not Require Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Jobs That Do Not Require Pre-Employment Drug Testing

There are plenty of job roles that usually do not require pre-employment drug testing, including:

  • Graphic Design
  • Website Design (sometimes)
  • Retail Positions
  • Housekeeping
  • Some Photography Positions
  • Construction laborers (sometimes)
  • Food Service
  • Cosmetology
  • Some Real Estate Positions

Having said that, please keep in mind that at the end of the day, it is up to the company to decide whether they want to conduct a drug test or not.

Drug Testing Laws As Per Different States

Different states have different drug testing requirements.

For example, states such as Arkansas do not have a comprehensive law that clarifies when and where the drug test is required.

In contrast, states like Oregon or Alabama outline in detail whether an employee can be asked for a drug test or not.

Refer to this table to understand the drug testing laws of different states:

StateDrug Test Law, Drug Free Workplace Guidelines
AlabamaAlabama Drug Free Workplace Law
ArkansasArkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment
AlaskaAlaska Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace Policy
ArizonaArizona House Bill: Alcohol and Drug Testing
CaliforniaCalifornia Controlled Substance Abuse Testing Program
ConnecticutConnecticut Department of Labor Drug Testing Laws
ColoradoColorado Department of Public Health Alcohol and Drug Testing
DelawareState of Delaware Drug Testing Program and Guidelines
FloridaFlorida Statutes Drug-Free Workplace Program
GeorgiaGeorgia Code Drug Free Workplace Guidelines
HawaiiHawaii Substance Abuse Testing
IdahoIdaho Employer Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace Act
IndianaIndiana State Drug and Alcohol Testing
IllinoisIllinois Compiled Statutes: Substance Abuse Prevention Programs
IowaIowa Drug Free Workplace Information
KansasKansas TANF Drug Testing
KentuckyKentucky Court of Justice Resources
LouisianaLouisiana Drug Testing Standards
MaineMaine Department of Labor Substance Abuse Testing
MarylandMaryland Department of Labor Drug Testing
MassachusettsMassachusetts Department of Justice
MichiganMichigan Drug and Alcohol Testing
MississippiMississippi Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations
MinnesotaMinnesota Authorized Drug and Alcohol Testing
MissouriMissouri Labor Relations: Drug Testing
MontanaMontana Employer Guide to Drug Testing
NebraskaNebraska Drug and Alcohol Testing
NevadaState of Nevada Alcohol and Drug Program
New HampshireMassachusetts Marijuana Act
New JerseyNew Jersey Medical Marijuana Act
New MexicoNew Mexico Cannabis Consumption
New YorkNew York Department of Justice Divisions and Bureaus
North CarolinaNorth Carolina Drug Testing Regulations
North DakotaNorth Dakota Drug and Alcohol Testing
OhioOhio Drug Free Safety Program
OklahomaOklahoma Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing
OregonOregon Drug Free Workplace FAQ
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Testing
Rhode IslandRhode Island Labor Relations
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy
South DakotaSouth Dakota Drug Screening Program
TennesseeTennessee Drug Testing Program
TexasTexas Drug Testing in the Workplace
UtahUtah Drug and Alcohol Testing
VermontVermont Drug Testing Statutes
VirginiaVirginia Department of Justice Licensure and Regulatory Services
WashingtonWashington State Drug and Alcohol Testing Legislature
West VirginiaWest Virginia Safer Workplace Act
WisconsinWisconsin Pre-Employment Drug Testing Program
WyomingWyoming Drugs of Abuse Testing

Can an Employee Refuse a Drug Test?

Can an Employee Refuse a Drug Test

Just like the federal or state government does not mandate all employers to run drug tests, they also do not mandate candidates to take drug tests. So yes, your current or potential employee can refuse to take a drug test.

This does not mean that there won’t be repercussions for denying the drug test. If the company requires a drug test and the candidate denies the same, then they have the right to withdraw the employment letter.

However, companies who deny a job to a candidate because of their refusal to do the drug testing need to prove that the drug testing relates to the person’s ability to do the job properly.

An employee who is denied a job without proper documentation can take a legal discourse, especially if their rights are violated.

Does a Criminal Background Check Include Drug Testing?

Anyone who is interested to know “Does Background Check Include Drug Test?” might also be interested to find out if a criminal background check includes drug testing.

You must know that a criminal background check and drug testing are two separate things and are not connected.

A criminal background check shows a person’s registered criminal records, while a drug test shows the presence of illegal substances in the person’s body.

Additionally, a criminal background check may reveal:

  • Criminal Records (misdemeanor and felony)
  • History Search
  • Fingerprint Background Check
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • Arrest History

What About Background Check Drug Tests Where Marijuana is Legal?

Background Check Drug Tests Where Marijuana is Legal

Marijuana is legal in many states, but even so, it is seen as illegal in the eyes of the federal government. So, for job roles and states that require following federal laws, the usage of Marijuana might not be accepted.

It is upto the discretion of the company to accept your application or not if the use of Marijuana is found in your drug-test report.

It is best to stay clear of even Marijuana if you want to pass your drug test without any hiccups.

How Is a Drug Test Done?

There are several types of drug testing methods that a company can choose.

The traditional method of lab-based urine testing is the most common type of drug testing method. In fact, 83% of companies choose this method.

On-site oral fluid screens, hair analysis, and alcohol tests are some common alternatives of the same.

All of these tests can be used for drug testing. But with hair or urine samples, the report can reveal the use of up to 10 types of drugs.

Wrap Up

Background checks and drug tests are important for an employer to ensure a safe workplace. And both are different from each other. So we hope your doubt about does background check include drug test is clear now.

A drug test may or may not be needed depending on the job you are applying for, especially in the private sector. It all boils down to the discretion of the company.

However, there are industries that require a compulsory drug test, as we have already shared in the article above.

We hope this guide was useful to you.


Will I be hired if I fail drug testing for pre-employment background check?

It is upto the company to decide whether they still want to hire you if you fail your drug test. Although the percentage of the same is low.

However, if a company hires you even after you fail the drug test, then you might be asked to appear for a drug test after some time again. Or else you will be hired on a probationary period.

Will failed drug tests show up on other background checks?

Failed drug tests that are not related to DOT jobs will not show up on other background checks.

The information found in any background check is never shared with your potential employers but only with the one who requested it, and that too with your consent.

However, DOT records your failed drug test reports. So if you re-apply to a DOT position, then your previously failed drug test would be reported as well.

For how long does a failed drug test remains on DOT records?

A failed drug test remains with the FMCSA Clearinghouse until the person does not finish an assessment with a substance abuse professional. 

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