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Frequently Asked Questions


1. As an employee or employer, how do I know if I am subject to DOT testing?

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).

Click here to answer a brief series of questions to determine if you are covered or not.

2. As 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 employers.

3. What happens if I just quit this job and apply to another employer? 

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 process.

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.

5. Who pays for the SAP evaluation and whatever treatment/education that the SAP recommends?

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 financial situation.

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 process?

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 started.

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 the employer.

8. How long does the Return-To-Duty process take?

This depends on two things: 

The level of treatment plan that is recommended, and

How quickly the employee gets started on the treatment plan. 
Some employees get started right away on the SAP's recommendations and are back on the job in a short time. Others may put off getting started or fail to complete the SAP's recommendations, making the time it takes them to get back to safety-sensitive work longer. Employers generally view an employee or potential employee more positively if they have gone through the Return-To-Duty process in a timely manner.

9. I can't afford to be out of work during this process. Can I work while going through the process?

Absolutely. But, you can only work in a non-safety-sensitive position. Many employers allow their employees to do this.

10. How do I start the Return-To-Duty process?

If you are an employer you can either call me directly at (970) 495-4852 or fill out the referral form by clicking here.

If you are an employee, you can call me directly at (970) 495-4852.

 

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Cynthia Fravel, LPC, CAC II, NCAC I    
Phone: (970) 495-4852    Fax: (970) 204-7881