The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)

The SAP Process

A SAP neither advocates for the employer nor the employee. The SAP function is to protect the public interest in safety by professionally evaluating the employee and recommending appropriate education and/or treatment, follow-up testing and aftercare. The primary safety objective of the DOT rules is to prevent (through deterrence and detection) alcohol and controlled substance users from performing transportation industry safety-sensitive functions.


A transportation worker who has violated DOT regulations (DOT Regulations, 49 CFR Part 40) must follow a specific procedure before being considered for return to safety-sensitive function.

The process, conducted by a qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), includes:

The SAP conducts an initial face-to-face clinical evaluation, including standardized testing. DOT's rule requires recommendation for treatment and/or education in every case. The SAP must send an initial evaluation report to the Designated Employer Representative (DER).

The SAP assists the employee in contacting the treatment provider, and arranging for services;

The SAP maintains regular contact with the treatment provider, to monitor the employee’s treatment progress, and to confirm suitability of the treatment plan;

The SAP will conduct a face-to-face follow-up clinical evaluation to determine if the employee has complied with the SAP’s recommendations, and to measure success of treatment. If the employee has complied with the SAP's recommendation, the SAP sends a follow-up report is to the DER, including SAP’s recommendations for a program of aftercare and follow-up testing.

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