SAP DOT Evaluations
Initial Evaluation - 2 Hours
DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 40 Section 40.285
Subpart O - Substance Abuse Professionals and the Return-to-Duty Process
(a) As an employee, when you have violated DOT drug and alcohol regulations, you cannot again perform any DOT safety-sensitive duties for any employer until and unless you complete the SAP evaluation, referral, and education/treatment process set forth in this subpart and in applicable DOT agency regulations. The first step in this process is a SAP evaluation.
(b) For purposes of this subpart, a verified positive DOT drug test result, a DOT alcohol test with a result indicating an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater, a refusal to test (including by adulterating or substituting a urine specimen) or any other violation of the prohibition on the use of alcohol or drugs under a DOT agency regulation constitutes a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation -- 49 CFR Part 40 -- defines the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) as a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare. There are six operating administrations covered by the DOT regulations: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and United States Coast Guard (USCG). The purpose of a DOT evaluation is to determine the extent of the employee’s substance misuse problem through the assessment process. The DOT regulations give an employee who works in a DOT covered safety-sensitive position and fails a drug and/or alcohol test the opportunity to return to that safety-sensitive position once compliance to an SAP’s recommendations has been documented. DOT evaluations last two hours for the initial and one hour for the final and are conducted face-to-face in an interview-type setting.
SAP Certification Organizations
A SAP Counselor must have met the requirements by any of the 3 certification organizations approved by the Department of Transportation in order to be eligible to become a SAP.
(NAADAC) National Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors Certification Commission
(ICRC) International Certification Reciprocity Consortium
(NBCC) National Board for Certified Counselors
An additional directory to find a SAP Counselor is available at saplist.com
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Have more questions about license reinstatement after a DWI? Click the "Alcohol-Related Offenses" link to go to the DPS website for more information on the subject.
Subpart O - Substance Abuse Professionals and the Return-to-Duty Process
§ 40.291 What is the role of the SAP in the evaluation, referral, and treatment process of an employee who has violated DOT agency drug and alcohol testing regulations?
(a) As a SAP, you are charged with:
(1) Making a face-to-face clinical assessment and evaluation to determine what assistance is needed by the employee to resolve problems associated with alcohol and/or drug use;
(2) Referring the employee to an appropriate education and/or treatment program;
(3) Conducting a face-to-face follow-up evaluation to determine if the employee has actively participated in the education and/or treatment program and has demonstrated successful compliance with the initial assessment and evaluation recommendations;
(4) Providing the DER with a follow-up drug and/or alcohol testing plan for the employee; and
(5) Providing the employee and employer with recommendations for continuing education and/or treatment.
(b) As a SAP, you are not an advocate for the employer or employee. Your function is to protect the public interest in safety by professionally evaluating the employee and recommending appropriate education/treatment, follow-up tests, and aftercare.
Subpart O - Substance Abuse Professionals and the Return-to-Duty Process
§ 40.293 What is the SAP's function in conducting the initial evaluation of an employee?
As a SAP, for every employee who comes to you following a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation, you must accomplish the following:
(a) Provide a comprehensive face-to-face assessment and clinical evaluation.
(b) Recommend a course of education and/or treatment with which the employee must demonstrate successful compliance prior to returning to DOT safety-sensitive duty.
(1) You must make such a recommendation for every individual who has violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation.
(2) You must make a recommendation for education and/or treatment that will, to the greatest extent possible, protect public safety in the event that the employee returns to the performance of safety-sensitive functions.
(c) Appropriate education may include, but is not limited to, self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) and community lectures, where attendance can be independently verified, and bona fide drug and alcohol education courses.
(d) Appropriate treatment may include, but is not limited to, in-patient hospitalization, partial in-patient treatment, out-patient counseling programs, and aftercare.
(e) You must provide a written report directly to the DER highlighting your specific recommendations for assistance (see §40.311(c)).
(f) For purposes of your role in the evaluation process, you must assume that a verified positive test result has conclusively established that the employee
committed a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation. You must not take into consideration in any way, as a factor in determining what your recommendation will be, any of the following:
(1) A claim by the employee that the test was unjustified or inaccurate;
(2) Statements by the employee that attempt to mitigate the seriousness of a violation of a DOT drug or alcohol regulation (e.g., related to assertions of use of hemp oil, “medical marijuana” use, “contact positives,” poppy seed ingestion, job stress); or
(3) Personal opinions you may have about the justification or rationale for drug and alcohol testing.
(g) In the course of gathering information for purposes of your evaluation in the case of a drug-related violation, you may consult with the MRO. As the MRO, you are required to cooperate with the SAP and provide available information the SAP requests. It is not necessary to obtain the consent of the employee to provide this information.
§ 40.295 May employees or employers seek a second SAP evaluation if they disagree with the first SAP's recommendations?
(a) As an employee with a DOT drug and alcohol regulation violation, when you have been evaluated by a SAP, you must not seek a second SAP's evaluation in order to obtain another recommendation.
(b) As an employer, you must not seek a second SAP's evaluation if the employee has already been evaluated by a qualified SAP. If the employee, contrary to paragraph (a) of this section, has obtained a second SAP evaluation, as an employer you may not rely on it for any purpose under this part.
§ 40.297 Does anyone have the authority to change a SAP's initial evaluation?
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no one (e.g., an employer, employee, a managed-care provider, any service agent) may change in any way the SAP's evaluation or recommendations for assistance. For example, a third party is not permitted to make more or less stringent a SAP's recommendation by changing the SAP's evaluation or seeking another SAP's evaluation.
(b) The SAP who made the initial evaluation may modify his or her initial evaluation and recommendations based on new or additional information (e.g., from an education or treatment program).
§ 40.301 What is the SAP's function in the follow-up evaluation of an employee?
(a) As a SAP, after you have prescribed assistance under §40.293, you must re-evaluate the employee to determine if the employee has successfully carried out your education and/or treatment recommendations.
(1) This is your way to gauge for the employer the employee's ability to demonstrate successful compliance with the education and/or treatment plan.
(2) Your evaluation may serve as one of the reasons the employer decides to return the employee to safety-sensitive duty.
(b) As the SAP making the follow-up evaluation determination, you must:
(1) Confer with or obtain appropriate documentation from the appropriate education and/or treatment program professionals where the employee was referred; and
(2) Conduct a face-to-face clinical interview with the employee to determine if the employee demonstrates successful compliance with your initial evaluation recommendations.
(c) (1) If the employee has demonstrated successful compliance, you must provide a written report directly to the DER highlighting your clinical determination that the employee has done so with your initial evaluation recommendation (see §40.311(d)).
(2) You may determine that an employee has successfully demonstrated compliance even though the employee has not yet completed the full regimen of education and/or treatment you recommended or needs additional asssitance. For example, if the employee has successfully completed the 30-day in-patient program you prescribed, you may make a “successful compliance” determination even though you conclude that the employee has not yet completed the out-patient counseling you recommended or should continue in an aftercare program.
(d)(1) As the SAP, if you believe, as a result of the follow-up evaluation, that the employee has not demonstrated successful compliance with your recommendations, you must provide written notice directly to the DER (see §40.311(e)).
(2) As an employer who receives the SAP's written notice that the employee has not successfully complied with the SAP's recommendations, you must not return the employee to the performance of safety-sensitive duties.
(3) As the SAP, you may conduct additional follow-up evaluation(s) if the employer determines that doing so is consistent with the employee's progress as you have reported it and with the employer's policy and/or labor-management agreements.
(4) As the employer, following a SAP report that the employee has not demonstrated successful compliance, you may take personnel action consistent with your policy and/or labor-management agreements.
§ 40.303 What happens if the SAP believes the employee needs additional treatment, aftercare, or support group services even after the employee returns to safety-sensitive duties?
(a) As a SAP, if you believe that ongoing services (in addition to follow-up tests) are needed to assist an employee to maintain sobriety or abstinence from drug use after the employee resumes the performance of safety-sensitive duties, you must provide recommendations for these services in your follow-up evaluation report (see §40.311(d)(10)).
(b) As an employer receiving a recommendation for these services from a SAP, you may, as part of a return-to-duty agreement with the employee, require the employee to participate in the recommended services. You may monitor and document the employee's participation in the recommended services. You may also make use of SAP and employee assistance program (EAP) services in assisting and monitoring employees' compliance with SAP recommendations. Nothing in this section permits an employer to fail to carry out its obligations with respect to follow-up testing (see §40.309).
(c) As an employee, you are obligated to comply with the SAP's recommendations for these services. If you fail or refuse to do so, you may be subject to disciplinary action by your employer.
§ 40.305 How does the return-to-duty process conclude?
(a) As the employer, if you decide that you want to permit the employee to return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions, you must ensure that the employee takes a return-to-duty test. This test cannot occur until after the SAP has determined that the employee has successfully complied with prescribed education and/or treatment. The employee must have a negative drug test result and/or an alcohol test with an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02 before resuming performance of safety-sensitive duties.
(b) As an employer, you must not return an employee to safety-sensitive duties until the employee meets the conditions of paragraph (a) of this section. However, you are not required to return an employee to safety-sensitive duties because the employee has met these conditions. That is a personnel decision that you have the discretion to make, subject to collective bargaining agreements or other legal requirements.
(c) As a SAP or MRO, you must not make a “fitness for duty” determination as part of this re-evaluation unless required to do so under an applicable DOT agency regulation. It is the employer, rather than you, who must decide whether to put the employee back to work in a safety-sensitive position.
§ 40.307 What is the SAP's function in prescribing the employee's follow-up tests?
(a) As a SAP, for each employee who has committed a DOT drug or alcohol regulation violation, and who seeks to resume the performance of safety-sensitive functions, you must establish a written follow-up testing plan. You do not establish this plan until after you determine that the employee has successfully complied with your recommendations for education and/or treatment.
(b) You must present a copy of this plan directly to the DER (see §40.311(d)(9)).
(c) You are the sole determiner of the number and frequency of follow-up tests and whether these tests will be for drugs, alcohol, or both, unless otherwise directed by the appropriate DOT agency regulation. For example, if the employee had a positive drug test, but your evaluation or the treatment program professionals determined that the employee had an alcohol problem as well, you should require that the employee have follow-up tests for both drugs and alcohol.
(d) However, you must, at a minimum, direct that the employee be subject to six unannounced follow-up tests in the first 12 months of safety-sensitive duty following the employee's return to safety-sensitive functions.
(1) You may require a greater number of follow-up tests during the first 12-month period of safety-sensitive duty (e.g., you may require one test a month during the 12-month period; you may require two tests per month during the first 6-month period and one test per month during the final 6-month period).
(2) You may also require follow-up tests during the 48 months of safety-sensitive duty following this first 12-month period.
(3) You are not to establish the actual dates for the follow-up tests you prescribe. The decision on specific dates to test is the employer's.
(4) As the employer, you must not impose additional testing requirements (e.g., under company authority) on the employee that go beyond the SAP's follow-up testing plan.
(e) The requirements of the SAP's follow-up testing plan “follow the employee” to subsequent employers or through breaks in service.
Example 1 to Paragraph (e): The employee returns to duty with Employer A. Two months afterward, after completing the first two of six follow-up tests required by the SAP's plan, the employee quits his job with Employer A and begins to work in a similar position for Employer B. The employee remains obligated to complete the four additional tests during the next 10 months of safety-sensitive duty, and Employer B is responsible for ensuring that the employee does so. Employer B learns of this obligation through the inquiry it makes under §40.25.
Example 2 to Paragraph (e): The employee returns to duty with Employer A. Three months later, after the employee completes the first two of six follow-up tests required by the SAP's plan, Employer A lays the employee off for economic or seasonal employment reasons. Four months later, Employer A recalls the employee. Employer A must ensure that the employee completes the remaining four follow-up tests during the next nine months.
(f) As the SAP, you may modify the determinations you have made concerning follow-up tests. For example, even if you recommended follow-up testing beyond the first 12-months, you can terminate the testing requirement at any time after the first year of testing. You must not, however, modify the requirement that the employee take at least six follow-up tests within the first 12 months after returning to the performance of safety-sensitive functions.
DPS Mailing Address, Fax Number and Email Information
Required documents can be submitted by mail, fax or email. All documents submitted by email must be in PDF format. Individual must write their name, date of birth and driver license number on all documents so their record can be properly identified.
Texas Department of Public Safety
Enforcement and Compliance Service
P.O. Box 4087
Austin, TX 78773-0320
Fax Number: 512-424-2848
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