Once a driver receives a failed drug test result, they are required to follow the DOT SAP return-to-duty (RTD) process in order to resume driving duties. This process involves ongoing follow-up testing for at least 12 months. Employers and drivers must have a clear understanding of this process, especially in light of recent statistics. In the first two months of the new DOT Clearinghouse, over 11,000 drivers were found to have a positive drug test result. These individuals must now undergo the DOT SAP and RTD process before they can resume safety-sensitive functions. This process begins with an evaluation from a substance abuse professional, which is mandated by federal regulations in 49 CFR Part 40 Subpart O.
As defined by the DOT, the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is responsible for assessing employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and providing recommendations on education, counseling, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.
The SAP plays a crucial role in determining an employee's readiness to operate regulated vehicles, such as trucks, school buses, oil tankers, trains, airplanes, subway cars, and others, as well as the duration of the necessary follow-up testing.
There are various components to consider when determining the expenses related to the DOT SAP process. These include the initial examination fee, the education program, the return-to-duty drug test, and the follow-up testing program, which may extend for 6 months or more.
However, the duration of the follow-up testing program can vary significantly, ranging from 12 months to 5 years, depending on the recommendations made by the DOT SAP.
Given these uncertainties, it can be challenging to estimate the total cost of the process accurately. Our DOT SAP evaluation process typically costs around $500, excluding the expenses related to any recommendations provided by the evaluator.
Estimating the length of a SAP program can be challenging since each program is tailored to the individual. However, the process can be divided into two main parts: returning to duty and completing the follow-up testing program.
The return-to-duty process involves several steps, including finding a qualified DOT SAP, undergoing an evaluation, consulting with a physician if needed, completing an education or treatment program, undergoing a second SAP evaluation, and passing a return-to-duty drug test. This process typically takes several weeks to several months.
Once the driver returns to safety-sensitive functions, the follow-up testing program begins. The SAP must recommend a minimum of six unannounced observed drug tests in the first 12 months. However, the follow-up testing program can last up to five years, as recommended by the SAP. If the driver fails or refuses a drug test, the process may need to start over.
In order for an employee to resume safety-sensitive functions after testing positive for drugs, they must go through the return-to-duty process. This process involves the following steps:
Once the DER receives a negative result, the employee may resume safety-sensitive duties. However, the SAP may also recommend a follow-up testing schedule after the second evaluation. This schedule consists of a minimum of 6 unannounced observed drug tests within the first 12 months of resuming safety-sensitive work, but can extend up to 60 months (five years) depending on the SAP's recommendation.