After a failed DOT drug test, an employee must complete a return to duty program with a DOT-qualified SAP to be approved for work again. The return to duty process is a program outlined by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) in compliance with DOT guidelines. The first step in the process is finding a SAP to work with. The guide below explains how employers and/or employees can obtain a DOT SAP list to start the Return-to-Duty process.
A Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who helps DOT-regulated employees return to work after a failed drug or alcohol test. As described in the DOT employee handbook, SAPs are the “gatekeepers to the re-entry program.” They determine when a safety-sensitive employee is prepared to return to work. To become a SAP, a person must complete extensive training and background checks. They must also have clinical experience in treating/diagnosing substance abuse disorders and conditions related to substance abuse.
It is up to the employee to find a SAP (preferably in their area). A few things to be aware of when choosing a SAP:
The DOT Title 49 Part 40 states:
“As an employee with a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation, when you have been evaluated by a SAP, you must NOT seek a second SAP evaluation in order to obtain another recommendation.”
That means if you don’t agree with the SAP’s treatment or education plan, you are not allowed to seek another opinion. You are advised to make sure the SAP you select is right for you.
SAPs do not decide if an employee should be terminated or re-hired. Those decisions are up to the employer. A SAP acts as a neutral party, neither siding with the employer nor the employee. A SAP’s job is to provide a personalized treatment or education plan for each individual, in alignment with DOT protocol. SAPs conduct in-person evaluations to approve employees to return to safety-sensitive duties.
You must make certain that the SAP is DOT-qualified. One way to ensure you get the help you need is to consult with an organization like American Substance Abuse Professionals, Inc. (ASAP). ASAP offers Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), Substance Abuse Expert (SAE), and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) evaluation services. They have a nationwide network of SAPs and an 85% success rate in getting employees back to work.
An employee who fails or refuses a DOT drug test will be required to work with an SAP before returning to safety-sensitive duties. This includes employees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The Return-to-Duty process is the same for all circumstances, even when an employee refuses a drug test or fails a pre-employment drug test. Those individuals must work with a DOT-qualified SAP before returning to work.
Employers are required to provide a DOT SAP list for employees following a failed/refused drug test. The employee must immediately be removed from safety-sensitive job duties and given the resources to start the Return-to-Duty process. That’s where American Substance Abuse Professionals, Inc. comes in. We provide SAP services throughout the United States, and we are listed as an SAP resource with the Department of Transportation. We will gladly provide a list of our DOT-qualified SAPs in your area.