The U.S. Department of Transportation expanded and tightened their regulations requiring alcohol and drug testing of safety-sensitive employees in all of their operating administrations. While the majority of people seen at our office are truck driver who work within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we are qualified to—and regularly do—provide evaluations for those people working within the other DOT operating administrations (FRA, FAA, RSPA, FTA and the USCG).
The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is the person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.
In the words of the DOT itself: The SAP represents “the major decision point (and in some cases the only decision point) an employer may have in choosing whether or not to place an employee behind the steering wheel of a school bus, in the cockpit of a plane, at the helm of an oil tanker, at the throttle of a train, in the engineer compartment of a subway car, or at the emergency control valves of a natural gas pipeline.”
This is a major responsibility and we take it seriously. We will work to get your employee back to work as quickly as possible but only if and when we are satisfied that they pose no risk to you, to themselves and, most importantly, to the public.
As an employer, you are not required to provide a SAP evaluation or any subsequent recommended education or treatment for an employee who has violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation. However, if you offer that employee an opportunity to return to a DOT safety-sensitive duty following a violation, you must, before the employee again performs that duty, ensure that the employee receives an evaluation by a SAP meeting the requirements of §40.281 and that the employee successfully complies with the SAPs evaluation recommendations. [Note: Even if you elect to terminate the employee on the spot you are still required to give him/her the contact information for at least one DOT-qualified SAP because that employee cannot work in a safety-sensitive capacity anywhere else until they have gone through the SAP evaluation and return-to-duty process.]
Payment for SAP evaluations and services is left for employers and employees to decide and may be governed by existing management-labor agreements, but in almost all cases the employee must pay for his/her own SAP evaluation.