Resources for Employees

Frequently-Asked Questions

  1. My employer told me I have to find a SAP? How do I do this?
  2. If I have a violation, do I have to go through a SAP?
  3. What if I arrange for an assessment by someone who is not a SAP?
  4. My employer gave me the name of phone number of a SAP. Must I use that SAP, or can I find another SAP?
  5. What if I just go to a treatment center and put myself into treatment?
  6. What happens if I just quit this job and apply to another employer?
  7. What if I just "forget" to list my previous employer on an application form?
  8. Who is going to pay for the cost of my SAP services?
  9. If I have to pay for this, what will this cost?
  10. How will I pay for this?
  11. Will my treatment be covered by my health insurance?
  12. What if I can't afford the plan that the SAP recommends?
  13. If I don't agree with the SAP's recommendation, can I get a second opinion from another SAP?
  14. How long will this process take?
  15. What happens next?
  16. How can I find out what this follow-up testing program will be?
  17. Who pays for these follow-up tests?
  18. What happens if I test positive on a follow-up test?

#1 My employer told me I have to find a SAP? How do I do this?
The regulation requires your employer to give you the names of qualified SAPs. (40.287) If your employer did not do that, you may want to suggest that your employer go to this website and select a SAP for you. If your employer has an EAP, you may also ask the EAP about whether this service is covered. Your employer may also have other ways of identifying a SAP. But regardless of what option your employer chooses, it is the employer's responsibility to provide you with names of qualified SAPs.

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#2 If I have a violation, do I have to go through a SAP?
Yes, DOT requires that an employee with a DOT violation must be evaluated by a qualified and trained SAP.

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#3 What if I arrange for an assessment by someone who is not a SAP?
An employer cannot accept recommendations from anyone who is not a qualified SAP.

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#4 My employer gave me the name of phone number of a SAP. Must I use that SAP, or can I find another SAP?
What does your employer's policy say about this? If this is not covered in your employer's policy, then you really should ask your employer. The DOT rules are very specific about how this process must be conducted. Your employer has the right to specify the SAP that his employees must use. Your employer may have given you the name of a SAP because your employer has confidence in that particular SAP's knowledge and understanding of the regulation. If you select a different SAP, it is possible that the SAP you choose doesn't understand the rules, or hasn't been appropriately trained. In the end, your employer is responsible for anything that a SAP may do (or not do) under this federal law, and your employer could be fined or could face other penalties and sanctions by DOT, even if you selected that SAP on your own. Your employer may require you to use his designated SAP. And it is likely that DOT would support your employer's decision. In that case, your employer is merely protecting his own interests.

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#5 What if I just go to a treatment center and put myself into treatment?
This is also not permissible under the regulations. DOT will require that you go to a SAP for an evaluation, and if the SAP determines that you require a treatment plan other than what you may have had in a treatment center, you will have to comply with the SAP's recommendation before you can be considered for return to safety-sensitive functions in the transportation industry. In order for your record to be complete, your employer's file must include an assessment by a qualified and trained SAP, and two SAP reports (an Initial Evaluation and a Follow-Up Evaluation indicating that you complied with the SAP's recommendation.)

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#6 What happens if I just quit this job and apply to another employer?
The regulations don't allow you to provide safety-sensitive functions for another DOT employer until and unless you have successfully completed this return-to-duty process. A future DOT-covered employer is required to obtain your drug and alcohol testing records from your previous employers for the previous two years. Your previous employer is required to report this violation, and if there is no SAP report regarding compliance, no employer is permitted to hire you. However, there is nothing preventing you from working for a non-DOT employer, in which case you don't have to go through this SAP process. But if you change your mind in the next two years, and decide to go back to a safety-sensitive function in the transportation industry, you will first have to complete a SAP return-to-duty process.

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#7 What if I just "forget" to list my previous employer on an application form?
There is a good chance this will be discovered sometime in the future. Falsification of information is a serious offense, and because this is a federal law, you would be subject to fines and civil penalties. DOT will hold you responsible under civil penalties if you provide safety-sensitive functions when you know that you have a violation.

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#8 Who is going to pay for the cost of my SAP services?
DOT is silent about who is responsible for the cost of SAP services. Some employers have arranged for SAP services to be covered by an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Some employers pay the cost of SAP services on behalf of their employees. But many employers require their employees to pay for SAP services. Your employer's written policy should indicate whether this will be your expense, or whether your employer will cover the cost on your behalf. If you are not certain about this, ask your employer before you even start the process.

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#9 If I have to pay for this, what will this cost?
SAP services are not cheap. A SAP assessment, monitoring, and follow-up evaluation requires quite a bit of professional time and expertise on the part of the SAP. In addition, a SAP has considerable liability, since DOT considers the SAP to be ultimately responsible to the traveling public. Don't expect that the cost of this assessment will be covered by insurance; it usually isn't. Health insurance covers "medical necessity". A positive drug test involves no medical necessity.

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#10 How will I pay for this?
This is a conversation you should have with a SAP before you even start the process. Many SAPs require full payment for these services in advance. If you are not able to get the money together before the first visit, a SAP can decide to not start the evaluation. Some SAPs will require payment in cash or money order or certified check.

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#11 Will my treatment be covered by my health insurance?
Not necessarily. A SAP might require you to participate in an education program, and it is not at all likely that insurance will pay for that. The SAP may also recommend a treatment program that is not covered by your insurance provider, or by your managed care system. There are two things that you should keep in mind: 1) A SAP must make the very best recommendation that he/she can, in order for you to get the treatment/education that is necessary. 2) It is possible that the SAP's recommendation will not be covered by your insurance plan, or will not be approved by your managed care system. If that happens, you will be expected to pay for it yourself. DOT simply expects the SAP to recommend the treatment and/or education that you need.

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#12 What if I can't afford the plan that the SAP recommends?
You have no alternative. You must either comply with the recommendation (and find some way to pay for it), or find a different job outside of the transportation industry. DOT considers the SAP's recommendation to be final, and no one can change it.

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#13 If I don't agree with the SAP's recommendation, can I get a second opinion from another SAP?
You (or your employer) may think that the SAP's recommendation is too tough. Or you may find that the recommendation is not covered by your insurance plan. The rule is very clear about this: You cannot get a second opinion. Once you have started an evaluation process with a SAP, you cannot seek the services of a different SAP. If you were to do that, you would be subject to fines by DOT, and if your employer accepted a second SAP's opinion, your employer would be subject to DOT fines as well.

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#14 How long will this process take?
That actually depends on the type of recommendation that your SAP makes. (If the SAP recommends an inpatient treatment program, you must complete that program before anything else can happen.) But it also depends on the progress that you make in complying with the SAP's recommendation. Your SAP will be monitoring your progress. He/she will be checking regularly with your treatment provider. When your SAP feels you have made sufficient progress, your SAP will call you to schedule a clinical follow-up evaluation. In the final analysis, it's really up to you. If your SAP feels that you are making little (or no) progress, or that your participation in your program is minimal, the SAP will probably not set up a follow-up evaluation for you.

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#15 What happens next?
When your SAP conducts a clinical follow-up evaluation and determines that you have complied with the recommendations, your SAP will send a report of compliance to your employer. Your employer then can decide whether to arrange for you to take a return-to-duty test. (Depending on your employer's written policy, your employer may also decide to terminate you, either before or after the return-to-duty test. Remember that in your employer's eyes, you may still be a safety risk.)

If your employer decides to take you back, and if you have a negative return-to-duty test, you will be subject to follow-up testing as required by your SAP. There must be at least 6 unannounced follow-up tests in the first year, but the SAP can require any number of tests, and the testing period can extend to five years.

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#16 How can I find out what this follow-up testing program will be?
DOT requires that the follow-up testing schedule (when, how often, and how many years) must be confidential. Neither the SAP nor your employer is permitted to share this testing plan with you. All the tests will be unannounced. If a SAP requires you to be tested 20 times in a year, your employer is responsible for seeing to it that all those tests are conducted. Your employer is subject to fines for any tests that are not conducted.

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#17 Who pays for these follow-up tests?
This is an employer's decision. Some employers pay for follow-up testing. Some employers share the cost of the tests with the employee who is being tested. But many employers require the employee to pay for all of those tests, as a consequence of having violated DOT's rules. It should be specified in your employer's policy. If it isn't, you may want to ask your employer about it.

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#18 What happens if I test positive on a follow-up test?
If you test positive again, you must go through the entire process again. That includes removal from safety-sensitive functions and a complete SAP evaluation and return-to-duty process. And the SAP will be again required to recommend treatment and/or education. Many employers terminate an employee for a second violation. You need to find out what your employer's policy says about that. If you have been terminated, and if you want to apply for a safety-sensitive job with another DOT employer, you must first complete the SAP return-to-duty process.

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