The SAP Process - Return to Duty

What Does A Qualified Substance Abuse Professional Do?

                       A SAP responsibility to the public is enormous!

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation -- 49 CFR Part 40 --  The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

The SAP represents the major decision point (and in some cases the only decision point) an employer may have in choosing whether or not to place an employee behind the steering wheel of a school bus, in the cockpit of a plane, at the helm of an oil tanker, at the throttle of a train, in the engineer compartment of a subway car, or at the emergency control valves of a natural gas pipeline. 

A SAP advocates for neither the employer nor the employee. Our function is to protect the public interest in safety by professionally evaluating the employee and recommending appropriate education and/or treatment, follow-up tests, and aftercare.



Any employee who performs safety sensitive functions mandated by the Department of Transportation is required to comply with the drug and alcohol testing regulations specified in CFR 49 Part 40. When an employee has violated these regulations, the employee must complete the DOT Return-to-Duty process with a Substance Abuse Professional before he or she can again perform any DOT safety-sensitive duties for any employer.

The DOT Return to Duty process (also known as the DOT SAP process) consists of the SAP evaluation, referral, and education/treatment and a follow-up. The first step in the process is being evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).

ISSLLC experienced SAP has worked and trained with leading professionals in the Employee assistance professional network. Our experienced SAP is readily available to provide substance abuse evaluations in a timely and professional manner.


According to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations 49 CFR Part 40, an employee in violation of the DOT regulations for drug or alcohol testing is required to complete the DOT Return to Duty Process with a qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). Below is a step by step outline of the SAP Process.


  • Step 1. The employee who has violated the DOT   regulations for drug or alcohol testing is removed from safety sensitive   duty.

  • Step   2. The employee is referred to a DOT qualified Substance Abuse Professional   (SAP).

  • Step   3. The SAP performs a clinical evaluation on the employee & recommends   treatment and/or education.

  • Step   4. The employee complies with the treatment(s) and/or education recommended   by the SAP.

  • Step   5. The SAP conducts a follow-up evaluation & determines the employee's   eligibility to return to safety sensitive duty.

  • Step   6. The employee tests negative on a Return to Duty Drug/Alcohol Screening and   returns to safety sensitive duty at the employer's discretion.

  • Step   7. The employee complies with any aftercare recommended by the SAP and is   subject to unannounced follow-up testing for a period of 1 to 5 years as   determined by the SAP.


Book your Return to Duty Evaluation on this site and you will receive 10% off the cost of the evaluation.  This offer expires December 31, 2019

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I want to say thanks to Dr. Bridges and the providers she referred me to for education.  They helped me get back on my feet and back in my truck.   


FMCSA CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse



The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will allow FMCSA, CMV employers, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and law enforcement officials to identify – in real-time – CDL drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements, and thereby improve safety on our nation’s roads.  

Stay connected with FMCSA via: A secure, online database that will give employers and other authorized users real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations. The Clearinghouse will improve safety on our Nation’s roadways by giving employers access to information they need to make informed safety decisions about when current or prospective drivers with drug and alcohol violations can safely resume safety-sensitive functions after completing the required return-to-duty (RTD) process.


“As this Congressional mandate is enacted, FMCSA’s goal is to ensure drivers, employers, and everyone who will be using the clearinghouse are registered as efficiently and effectively as possible.  FMCSA is here to be helpful during this implementation, and we strongly encourage all CMV stakeholders to get registered in the clearinghouse now,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

Registration is required to be able to access the clearinghouse once it is fully implemented on January 6, 2020.  To access the clearinghouse, authorized users must register.  These users include:

  • Drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP).
  • Employers of CDL drivers. This includes those who employ themselves as CDL drivers (owner-operators), typically a single-driver operation.
  • Consortia/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs).
  • Medical Review Officers (MROs).
  • Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs).

There is no cost for registration.  Commercial drivers are not required to immediately register for the clearinghouse, but will need to register to respond to an employer’s request for consent prior to a pre-employment query or other full query being conducted. 

FMCSA’s clearinghouse website contains important resources, including user brochures and instructional aids with step-by-step registration instructions for all users.  Users can visit to access these resources and to start the registration process.  Taken from: 



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