If you violate a Department of Transportation drug or alcohol regulation, you will need to complete the return-to-duty process before being eligible to go back to work.
The regulation requires your employer to give you the names of qualified SAPs. (40.287) If your employer did not do that, you can suggest that your employer come to SAPlist.com and search for a SAP on your behalf.
Yes. The DOT requires that a qualified and trained SAP evaluate every employee with a DOT violation.
No. An employer cannot accept recommendations from anyone who is not a qualified SAP.
DOT does not specify who is responsible for the cost of SAP services. Some employers pay for them, or have arranged for SAP services to be covered by an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). But many employers require their employees to pay for SAP services. Your employer’s written policy should indicate whether they will pay, or if it’s your responsibility. If you’re not sure who will pay, ask your employer.
Cost varies by SAP, and our website policy does not allow SAPs to list their fees. To find out a SAP’s fees, contact the SAP directly. In some cases, your workplace’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may cover SAP fees. In other cases, you will need to pay. Ask your employer for details. Health insurance typically doesn’t cover SAP assessments or follow-up appointments.
Many SAPs require full payment for their services in advance. If you are not able to provide the money at the first visit, a SAP may choose to not start the evaluation. Some SAPs will require payment in cash, money order or certified check.
According to DOT rules, your employer has the right to specify the SAP that employees must use. The reason is that your employer is ultimately responsible for anything that a SAP may do (or not do) under federal law, and your employer could be fined or face other penalties and sanctions by DOT, even if you selected a SAP on your own.
The DOT requires you to go to a SAP for an evaluation. If the SAP determines that you require a treatment plan other than what you may have had in a treatment center, you will have to comply with the SAP’s recommendation before you can be considered for return to safety-sensitive functions in the transportation industry.
The regulations don’t allow you to provide safety-sensitive functions for another DOT employer until and unless you have successfully completed the return-to-duty process.
A future DOT-covered employer is required to obtain your drug and alcohol testing records from your former employers for the previous two years. Your former employer is required to report your violation, and if there is no SAP report regarding compliance, no employer is permitted to hire you. However, there is nothing preventing you from working for a non-DOT employer, in which case you don’t have to go through this SAP process. But if you change your mind in the next two years, and decide to go back to a safety-sensitive function in the transportation industry, you will first have to complete a SAP return-to-duty process.
Falsification of information is a serious offense. Because this is a federal law, you would be subject to fines and civil penalties. DOT will hold you responsible under civil penalties if you provide safety-sensitive functions when you know that you have a violation.
You have no alternative. You must either comply with the recommendation and find a way to pay for it, or find a different job outside of the transportation industry. DOT considers the SAP’s recommendation to be final. No one can change it.
No. You (or your employer) may believe the SAP’s recommendation is too tough. Or you may find that the recommendation is not covered by your insurance plan. The DOT rule is very clear about this: Once you have started an evaluation process with a SAP, you cannot seek the services of a different SAP. If you try to get a second opinion, you and your employer would be subject to DOT fines.
It depends on the treatment plan that your SAP proposes, and how well you comply with it. Typically, the process takes between a few weeks and a few months.
DOT requires that the follow-up testing schedule (when, how often, and how many years) remain confidential. Neither the SAP nor your employer is permitted to share this testing plan with you. All the tests will be unannounced. Your employer is subject to fines for any tests that are not conducted.
This is up to the employer. Some pay for follow-up testing and some share the cost with the employee being tested. But many employers require the employee to pay for all of those tests, as a consequence of having violated DOTs rules. It should be specified in your employer’s policy. If it isn’t, ask your employer for more information.
If you test positive again, you must go through the entire return-to-duty process again. This includes removal from safety-sensitive functions and a complete SAP evaluation. The SAP will again recommend treatment and/or education. Many employers terminate an employee for a second violation. If you are terminated and you want to apply for a safety-sensitive job with another DOT employer, you must first complete the SAP return-to-duty process.