The DOT Return-To-Duty Process

You probably are here because of a DOT drug/alcohol violation

Before you can return to a DOT safety-sensitive position, you must successfully complete a return-to-duty process.

A Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) will have to:

  • Conduct a thorough face-to-face assessment
  • Recommend a required plan of treatment and/or education
  • Send a report to your employer about that recommendation
  • Monitor your progress through that plan
  • Conduct a face-to-face follow-up evaluation, to verify that you completed the recommendation and that it was successful

If the SAP determines the treatment was successful, the SAP will send a report of compliance to your employer. Your employer (or a future employer) can then order a return-to-duty test, which must be negative.  (The specimen collection will be observed).

If your return-to-duty test is positive, you will have a new violation.  You will be required to start over with another assessment, and another recommendation for treatment.

If the SAP determines that you didn’t cooperate with the treatment plan, or that you didn’t participate appropriately, the SAP will send a report of non-compliance to your employer, and you will have to continue with the program.

If you return to work, you will be subject to follow-up testing.

The SAP must set up a follow-up testing plan of no fewer than 6 unannounced tests, over at least 12 months.  However, the SAP could require any number of tests, over 60 months.  The specimen collection will be observed.

Find a SAP

What happens after the substance abuse evaluation?

Your SAP will make recommendations for treatment, follow-up testing and your ability to return to your DOT-regulated position. Next, your SAP will:

  • Conduct a clinical follow-up evaluation to determine if you have complied with the recommendations
  • Send a report of compliance to your employer

Your employer then decides if they want to offer you a return-to-duty test. Depending on the company’s written policy, they may decide to terminate you, either before or after the return-to-duty test. DOT drug testing is designed to identify safety risks. In your employer’s eyes, you may still pose a risk.

If your employer decides to take you back, and if you have a negative return-to-duty DOT drug screen, you will be subject to follow-up testing as required by your SAP. There must be at least 6 unannounced follow-up tests in the first year. However, your SAP can require any number of tests, and the testing period can last up to 5 years.

Have more questions about the return-to-duty process?

FAQs for Employees

FAQs for Employers

FAQs for SAPs