What is DOT-SAP ?

The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 requires drug and alcohol testing of all safety-sensitive transportation employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines, and other transportation industries. Because the testing must be performed in a uniform manner, the DOT publishes rules on who must conduct drug and alcohol tests, how to conduct those tests, and what procedures to use when testing.

These regulations cover ALL transportation employers, safety-sensitive transportation employees, and service agents, which according to its website, amounts to roughly 10 million people. The official rules are contained in 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 40,which can be found at The Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) publishes, implements, and provides authoritative interpretations of these rules. Its contact information can also be found at the referenced website link.

IMPORTANT: Many smaller businesses are not aware that they are subject to the same rules and regulations in regards to safety testing their drivers as large corporations. Any company, organization or group that hires a driver or professional who requires commercial licensing must follow the above guidelines. This includes churches who hire bus drivers, etc.

The return-to-duty process requires involvement of a qualified and trained Substance Abuse Professional, or an SAP, which is a designation held by Elizabeth Rahamim, LCSW, SAP in our office.

If you are a Human Resources professional, a Union Rep, an EAP or someone in a company’s leadership role that needs to make contact with an SAP to have on call, then please use either the Contact buttons or the Contact Page Form on this site to send us your information and we will be in touch immediately. If you are an employee who needs an SAP to start your treatment program, please do the same so we can get you started.
The industries that are covered and required to comply with DOT Regulations, Part 40, include employees working within the following jurisdictions:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 

Maritime Administration (MARAD)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 

Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA)

Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC)


Outline of the RTD Evaluation Process 

The DOT’s Return-To-Duty Process is lengthy and involved. An employee who has been removed from duty because of a violation must successfully complete this process before he/she can be considered for return to duty (RTD) or be hired by a different DOT-covered employer.

A positive drug or alcohol test is a violation. So also is a refusal to be tested. So are a number of other things that are prohibited by DOT.

When an employee has a positive test or refuses to be tested or has one of the DOT’s other violations, DOT requires the employer to immediately remove that employee from safety-sensitive functions. An employer who allows an employee with a violation to continue performing safety-sensitive functions is subject to fines, up to $10,000 per day.

An employee who has a violation has two options:

1) He/she can find another job, outside of the transportation industry.


2) He/she can be considered for returning to safety-sensitive functions in the transportation industry, but only after successfully completing DOT’s Return-To-Duty Process, and then providing a negative result on a return-to-duty drug and/or alcohol testing.

An SAP must conduct a face-to-face clinical evaluation of the employee. DOT’s rule then requires the SAP to recommend treatment and/or education for the employee.

The SAP must send a report to the employer, specifying the SAP’s recommendation for treatment and/or education.

The SAP must then monitor the employee’s progress in the recommended program of treatment and/or education.

When the SAP determines that the employee has made sufficient progress, the SAP will schedule a Follow-Up evaluation for the employee.

Based on that evaluation, the SAP will report to the employer that the employee has successfully complied with the SAP’s recommendation (or that the employee has not complied.)

If the SAP reports that the employee has successfully complied with the recommendation, the employer will decide whether to arrange for a return-to-duty test for the employee. (The employer is not obligated to take the employee back.)

If the SAP reports that the employee has not successfully complied with the recommendation, the employer cannot return to the employee to safety-sensitive functions.

An employee who has not successfully complied with the SAP’s recommendation may not return to safety-sensitive functions for any DOT employer until the SAP’s recommendations have been fully met, and the employee is able to provide a negative return-to-duty test.


Learn more about what IS or IS NOT a violation:


Learn more about our DOT-SAP Service Program, costs and other requirements:


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