What to Expect During a SAP Evaluation

All Department of Transportation (DOT) employees are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. This also includes CDL holders, like truck drivers. It is a federally-mandated regulation meant to help ensure the safety of employees, co-workers, and the public. 

Failing one of these routine tests doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your career; there is often a chance to get back on track. A SAP evaluation is the first step in returning to work.

In our guide below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the SAP evaluation process.  

Department of Transportation Drug Testing Regulations

The DOT drug test is a standard 5-panel screening for amphetamines, cocaine, THC (marijuana), PCP, and opiates. It also detects a blood alcohol level of above 0.02%.

Currently, the screening is via a urine test, but there are plans to transition to hair follicle testing instead. This method offers a longer window of detection and greater accuracy. 

Drug testing is required before being hired in any department of transportation position, randomly, and immediately following an accident. It may also occur due to reasonable suspicion of impairment. 

If you fail one of these routine tests, you will find yourself in the position of needing a SAP evaluation if you wish to continue employment. 

How Does the SAP Evaluation Begin? 

It is your own responsibility to locate a SAP near year. SAP stands for ‘substance abuse professional’. A DOT SAP must be a professionally-licensed social worker, psychologist, therapist, or physician with valid (not expired) credentials. 

The initial SAP evaluation is face-to-face. You are first given a questionnaire that covers topics like personal and family medical and substance abuse history. 

The next part of this session is an interview. Your SAP will go over the questionnaire with you and also try to gain a full understanding of your overall situation (also including things like finances, schedule, etc.). 

Using this information, the SAP then devises a personalized plan of action for you to complete. 

What Happens Next?

After the initial SAP evaluation, you must follow through with the program and meet the specifications of the designated plan. The criteria varies greatly, depending on the severity of the situation. 

You will need to provide evidence of completion, so don’t forget to have attendance logs or performance documents signed off along the way. 

At the end of the process, you then return to your SAP for another evaluation. If they deem you have fulfilled all of the program requirements, they begin submitted paperwork for work eligibility. If not, you will start back at step 1. 

Even after receiving clearance for returning to work, you may be subject to continuing a treatment plan as well as an increased number of random DOT drug and alcohol tests. 

A Pathway to Rehabilitation

The SAP program offers the potential to nip a minor problem in the bud before it becomes dire. Other times, it provides the complete rehabilitative program necessary to regain control of one’s life. 

Regardless of your individual circumstances, a SAP evaluation helps to identify and address the issue while keeping an open door to employment.  

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