Each year in America, 1.1 million Americans are arrested for driving while intoxicated or impaired. Driving under the influence poses one of the biggest safety threats in this country, putting both the driver and third parties at risk of injury or death.
To do their part, the Department of Transportation performs DOT drug and alcohol tests to ensure that any employees that operate a vehicle or heavy machinery aren’t a public safety risk.
The question is, what happens if you’re an employee who fails the DOT drug or alcohol test? What is a DOT SAP and how does the return-to-duty process work?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about returning to work after failing the DOT drug or alcohol test.
What Is a DOT SAP?
A DOT SAP is a substance abuse professional that is certified to work with members of the Department of Transportation. SAPs are able to offer an informed diagnosis of their patients while coming up with the best plan of action to achieve and maintain sobriety.
A SAP in your area will be familiar with local resources including support groups, rehabilitation centers, and educational programs. For the best results, it is recommended that you find a SAP location in your city, rather than traveling to another location in the state.
Where Do You Find a SAP Location in Your Area?
In order to return to work, it is imperative that you find a DOT-certified SAP. While it is your prerogative to seek further treatment, anything you pursue outside of SAP guidance will not count toward your return-to-duty process.
The Diversion Center is DOT-certified. We have multiple locations throughout the Atlanta metro area, including Marietta, Duluth, Lawrenceville, and more.
Our SAPs strive to meet your individual needs, offering flexible scheduling and same-day appointments. Our goal is to connect you with the resources you need to get you back to work as quickly and smoothly as possible.
How Does the Return-to-Duty Process Work?
What happens once you’ve made your SAP appointment? The process is simple, streamlined, and efficient. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect.
Meeting and Creating a Plan
First, you will attend your initial meeting with your SAP. During this meeting, you will fill out paperwork describing factors like your medical history, family history, and experience with substance use. Then, your SAP will conduct a face-to-face meeting to go over these factors in more detail.
Once your SAP has a better idea of your situation, they will guide you through the steps you need to take next. Your return-to-work action plan may involve any of the following:
- AA meetings
- Substance use education courses
- Self-help programs or groups
- Rehabilitation programs
- Community meetings
- On-going counseling with a registered therapist
Before settling on the best action plan for you, your SAP will address your financial situation. The goal is to pair you with the best resources available without putting you under financial strain. (Some DOT employers will help pay for your return-to-duty programs, but this is not always the case.)
Completing the Plan
Once you have your return-to-duty action plan, it’s time to follow through. You may be able to complete your assigned programs on your own time or you may be given a set time limit.
It is important that you attend every meeting or appointment as outlined by your SAP. It is also important that you take this process seriously and strive to make the changes necessary to successfully navigate your substance abuse issues.
Following Up With Your SAP
Once you have completed your SAP plan, you will return to the SAP location and have a follow-up meeting with your SAP. During this time, they will evaluate your progress.
If your SAP is confident that you have made the necessary progress to return to work, they will put together their recommendation for your direct supervisor. If they have any concerns, they will reevaluate. You may be required to complete more SAP-assigned programs before returning to work.
How do you ensure that your SAP finds your progress satisfactory? Follow your SAP plan accordingly and commit to sustaining sobriety and behaving appropriately in the workplace.
What to Expect When You Return to Work
If your SAP confirms that you are ready to resume all of your former duties, you may return to work. However, there are often conditions that you must meet in order to maintain your position.
For example, your SAP may ask that you continue to attend AA meetings or support groups for a specific period of time. Your supervisor will be made aware of this requirement and will ask for proof of compliance.
In addition, your SAP will provide your supervisor with a recommendation regarding future DOT drug or alcohol testing. Note that anyone who fails a DOT drug or alcohol test will get tested at least six additional times over the course of the next 12 months. Your SAP can recommend increased testing for up to four years.
While this may seem frustrating, it is important that you comply. Under DOT regulations, refusing to comply with a DOT drug or alcohol test is considered a failure of a DOT drug or alcohol test.
Schedule Your DOT SAP Appointment Today
The DOT understands the weight of intoxicated or impaired driving. To help cut down on accidents and injuries, all DOT employees are required to undergo DOT drug and alcohol testing. If you happen to fail your test, you do get a second chance.
Scheduling an appointment with a DOT SAP is the first step in the return-to-duty process. To find a SAP near you, take a look at our Diversion Center locations. Contact your local Diversion Center and set up your appointment today.