What is a Substance Abuse Evaluation?
SAPA Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) Evaluation is required when an employee has violated Department of Transportation guidelines 49 CFR
sapPart 40. Public safety is a priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). So to that end the DOT has developed regulations to ensure that transportation providers employ workers who are drug and alcohol free. DOT has established regulations to prevent through deterrence and detection those who use alcohol and controlled substances from performing transportation industry safety-sensitive functions. This includes aviation, commercial motor carriers, maritime, pipeline, railroad, and transit employees.

SAPEmployers are not required to provide for a SAP evaluation however if the employer offers an employee the opportunity to return to a DOT safety-sensitive duty following a violation, an employer must ensure that the employee receives and evaluation by a SAP and that the employee successfully complies with the SAP evaluation and recommendations. Payment for SAP evaluations and services are left for the employee and employer to decide which may be governed by existing management-labor agreements and health care benefits. Refer to SAP Fees for further explanation.

Substance Abuse Professional
sapA Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a specially qualified substance abuse clinician who has met credentialing, basic knowledge, training, continuing education requirements and then passed an exam to be certified as a Substance Abuse Professional. The SAP has an enormous responsibility to the public. The SAP is a major decision point an employer may have in deciding whether to place an employee behind the steering wheel of a school bus, in the cockpit of a plane, at the throttle of a train, or behind the wheel of a freight carrier, or other public transportation.

The SAP is not an advocate for the employer or the employee. The overarching function of the SAP is to protect the public interest of safety by professionally performing specific DOT mandated Return to Duty (RTD) functions. The role of the SAP is to make a face-to-face clinical assessment and evaluation to determine what assistance is needed by the employee to resolve the problems associated with alcohol and/or drug
SAPuse. Refer the employee to the appropriate education and or/treatment program. Conduct a face-to-face follow-up evaluation to determine if the employee has successfully complied with the initial assessment and treatment recommendations. The SAP role also includes providing the Designated Employer Representative (DER) with a follow-up testing plan and continuing education and or treatment. The SAP evaluator must follow the employee through the entire process until the time the employee is ready to return to work. Once the employee begins the process with one SAP, s/he must stay with that SAP throughout the process.

SAP Qualifications
A SAP is qualified to complete evaluations by meeting the following criteria:

  1. Holding certain credentials, training and education to provide such evaluations
  2. Completed an approved DOT training by an approved agency or organization
  3. Passing a qualifying exam


SAP Process
An employee will be referred for an evaluation because of a positive drug test, an alcohol test with an alcohol concentration of .04 or greater, or a refusal to test in accordance with DOT Rules and Regulations. The following is a summary of what will occur:

  1. You will be notified by the Medical Review Office (MRO) that your test results are positive for drugs or a Breathalyzer Alcohol Technician (BAT) notified you of a positive alcohol test.
  2. DOT mandates that you be referred to a SAP for an evaluation in resolving problems associated with misuse of alcohol or the use of controlled substances.
  3. When the SAP recommends treatment, your employer and you will be given a written recommendation specifying the approximate duration of treatment and the level of care.*
  4. The SAP will provide you with the appropriate referral, which is consistent with clinically evaluated needs and will take into consideration your insurance coverage, your ability to pay for treatment, and employer’s policies regarding availability of a leave of absence.
  5. If you have been terminated from employment and would like to pursue the evaluation in hopes of obtaining another safety- sensitive position the SAP recommendation may be provided to you and a copy retained for any further employer.
  6. As a DOT client, you are expected to participate in treatment as outlined by the treatment provider and the SAP. If you resist or fail to comply, the treatment provider will discharge you for non-compliance. This course of action will prevent you from working in a safety sensitive position.
  7. The SAP will hold a follow-up evaluation to review your compliance with the initial treatment recommendation. You will be required to follow the treatment provider’s recommendation for continuing care and meeting attendance.
  8. The SAP will submit in writing to your employer a summary outlining the initial assessment and participation in treatment. The SAP will also recommend to the employer that you pass a return to duty test for drugs or alcohol, plus order the mandated DOT follow-up testing schedule.


*Appropriate education, treatment and follow-up testing may include but not limited to drug/alcohol self-help and community lectures that can be verified, alcohol & other drug information school, in-patient hospitalization, partial in-patient treatment, or out-patient counseling programs and aftercare, and a minimum of six unannounced follow-up test in the first 12 months of safety sensitive duty following the employee’s return to safety-sensitive functions.

To set up an appointment call 509-850-5991 or use the appointment request.

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