Generally, DOT regulations cover safety-sensitive
transportation employers and employees. The DOT agencies covered by the
Regulations are: the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), the
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA),
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).
here to answer a brief series of questions to determine if you are covered
a covered employee, will I lose my job if I test positive or refuse to take a
drug or alcohol test?
These decisions are solely the employer's, which may
be based on company policy and/or any collective bargaining agreements. If your
job is covered under Question #1, you must be removed from safety-sensitive
duties until you have successfully completed the Return-To-Duty (RTD) process
with a SAP. This means that you cannot work in a safety-sensitive job with any
employer until you complete the Return-To-Duty process.
Most of my clients have returned to performing
safety-sensitive duties after completing the Return-To-Duty process. Many have
returned to their same employer. Others have moved on to jobs with other
3. What happens if I just quit this job and apply to
The regulations do not allow you to provide
safety-sensitive functions for any other DOT employer until you have
successfully completed the Return-To-Duty (RTD) process with a SAP. A
DOT-covered employer is required to obtain your drug and alcohol
testing records from your past employers for the previous two years. Your
previous employer is required to report your violation, and if
that employer doesn't have a SAP report showing your 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 RTD
4. What if I just don't list my previous
employer on an application form?
There is a very good chance that your violation will be discovered sometime in
the future. Falsification of information is a serious offense. If you were to
provide safety-sensitive functions again without completing the Return-To-Duty
process, you could face serious penalties and fines, even jail. In addition, any
employer that hires you to perform safety-sensitive duties without checking for
violations with your previous employers is subject to huge fines.
pays for the SAP evaluation and whatever treatment/education that the SAP
The DOT Regulations do not specify who is responsible
for paying for the SAP evaluation or the SAP-recommended treatment/education.
Most often, the employee pays for the SAP evaluation and any recommended
treatment/education. In some instances, the employer may share the cost of the
evaluation with the employee.
Many health insurance plans will help pay for
counseling/treatment but they do not cover the cost of the evaluation or
educational classes. As a SAP, it is my goal to find a treatment or education
option that fits the employee's needs while also taking into consideration their
6. How important is it to use someone that is actually
a credentialed SAP?
It is critical for both employees and
employers to use a provider that has bonafide SAP credentials. This means
that the SAP has taken specialized training, passed an exam and fulfilled the
continuing education requirements. A SAP should always be able to show you
documentation of all of the above. If they cannot, then they are probably not a
SAP. It is important to know that the DOT does not "certify" SAP's, so
if someone tells you they are a "certified SAP", that is a false
claim (DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 40 Section 40.365 (b)(10))
CAUTION: If an employee completes an evaluation
with someone who does not have the proper SAP credentials, the evaluation
will not meet the requirements of the DOT Regulations and the employee
will have to repeat the process with a properly credentialed SAP. I've seen this
happen several times.
7. What is actually involved in the Return-To-Duty
The Return-To-Duty (RTD) process begins with the SAP
evaluation which will take two hours at my office. I will then send you a letter
containing my recommendations and all the information you will need to get
Next, we have a second meeting for me to determine if
you have complied with my recommendations.
If you are found to be in compliance, you can then
take a "return to duty" drug and/or alcohol test which is arranged by
the employer. If that test is negative for all tested substances, then you are
eligible to return to performing safety-sensitive duties, at the discretion of
8. How long does the Return-To-Duty process take?
This depends on two things: