truck driver

According to the Census Bureau, over 2 million Americans are employed in the trucking transportation industry. Every single day, thousands of large trucks traverse the highways and byways of our country, delivering products, raw materials, and other important cargo.

Without truck drivers, our country’s infrastructure would fall apart. To ensure the safety of our truck drivers as well as other drivers on the road, the Department of Transportation requires all of their truck drivers to undergo DOT drug and alcohol tests. These can occur at random or on the scene of a work-related accident.

What happens if you’re a DOT truck driver and you fail your DOT drug or alcohol test? Your next step will be to schedule an appointment with a substance abuse professional (aka a SAP). 

From there, it’s up to you to pass your SAP evaluation. Read on to find out what this will entail.

Scheduling and Attending Your SAP Evaluation

If you fail your DOT drug or alcohol test as a truck driver, you will not be able to get back on the road again until you pass your SAP evaluation. In the meantime, your duties will be limited to those that are not safety-sensitive. That means that you’ll want to get started on your SAP evaluation right away.

At the Diversion Center, we offer same-day SAP evaluations because we understand that getting back to work is your biggest priority. To get started, find the location nearest you and schedule an appointment.

Attending Your Initial SAP Evaluation

A SAP evaluation consists of two parts, written and oral. First, you will fill out some preliminary paperwork that covers things like your family history with substance abuse. Next, you will sit down with your SAP and go over your case in more detail.

From there, your SAP will work with you to come up with a recovery program suitable to your needs. They will take into account factors like your personal history with substances, the severity of your case, and your economic resources.

The plan they help you come up with will typically consist of two key components. The first is geared toward your recovery and may include a detox or rehabilitation program. The second is geared toward education, covering topics like road safety and substance use.

Meeting the Requirements of Your SAP Evaluation

Once you have your plan in writing, it is your responsibility to follow through. Complete each program or course outlined by your SAP before returning for your follow up SAP evaluation. 

In some cases, your program may include a specific timeframe or a specific number of meetings you must attend. Recovery programs and educational courses often come with their own certification processes, which you will need to meet. Once you’ve received certification, you can bring this paperwork back to your SAP for your follow up evaluation. 

Getting Back to Work as a Truck Driver: What to Expect

As long as you follow your SAP’s guidance and meet the requirements of your programs, you will be able to return to work under certain conditions. If you do not meet those requirements, you will need to repeat the process before getting back on the road.

What are the conditions that you’ll face during and after your return-to-duty process? Let’s take a look.

Will You Get DOT Tested More Frequently?

All agencies that fall under the umbrella of the DOT, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, follow specific DOT testing rules.

If you have failed a DOT drug or alcohol test but passed your SAP evaluation, you will undergo a DOT drug or alcohol test before resuming your driving duties. You must receive negative test results before you can get back on the road.

Your SAP will also provide your employer with information about how frequently you should get tested over the coming months. Their guidance will depend on your case, evaluation, and handling of your SAP programs. 

Anyone who must complete a SAP evaluation will be subjected to a minimum of six DOT drug or alcohol tests over the course of the next 12 months. This is in addition to any random DOT tests you may have to take. Your SAP can recommend that increased testing continues for up to four years. 

Will You Be Required to Remain in Treatment Programs?

Not every truck driver who undergoes a SAP evaluation must continue treatment in the long run, but it is a possibility. Once again, this depends on what your SAP determines is best for you and your safety as a truck driver.

Continued treatment programs are often inexpensive (or cost-free). They may include attending sobriety support groups, continuing your road-safety education, or other reasonable and beneficial programs. You may be required to provide your supervisor with paperwork proving that you are attending these follow-up programs.

Get Started With Your SAP Evaluation and Get Back on the Road

There are thousands of truck drivers hitting the road each and every day. The DOT requires DOT drug and alcohol testing in order to ensure your safety as well as the safety of others. Failing your DOT drug or alcohol test as a truck driver doesn’t have to be the end of the line, as long as you proceed with a SAP evaluation.

The Diversion Center has locations throughout the Atlanta Metro area. To get started with your SAP evaluation right away, find the location nearest you and set up your same-day appointment. You can also learn more about SAP evaluations by visiting our blog.