Finding DOT Qualified SAPs: Tips for Employers and Employees

Finding DOT Qualified SAPs: Tips for Employers and Employees


When an employee fails a Department of Transportation (DOT) drug test, the employee must complete the Return-To-Duty process with a DOT qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) to be approved to go back to work. This is a program outlined by DOT guidelines. The first step in the process for the employee is to find a DOT qualified and credentialed SAP to guide them. In addition, employers are required to provide employees a list of qualified SAPs for those that have failed or refused a DOT drug test.  Read on to learn more about finding a DOT qualified SAP for employees and employers.

What is a SAP?

A Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who helps DOT regulated employees return to work after a DOT violation has occurred, such as a failed drug and/or alcohol test or a refusal to test. As described in the DOT employee handbook (DOT, 2019a), SAPs are the “gatekeepers to the re-entry program.” They determine when a safety-sensitive employee is prepared to return to work. To become a SAP, a person must complete “qualification training and examination, hold certain credentials in good standing, possess basic knowledge about how it relates to employers interest in safety sensitive duties, be knowledgeable on the DOT regulations including individual agency regulations and maintain continued education credits (CEUs).” (DOT, 2019b). Additionally, they must have clinical experience in treating and diagnosing substance use disorders and related conditions.

SAPs act as a neutral party and do not decide if an employee should be terminated or re-hired. Those decisions are up to the employer. A SAP’s job is to provide a personalized treatment and/or education plan for each individual, in alignment with DOT protocol. SAPs conduct face-to-face evaluations to approve employees to return to safety-sensitive duties. Temporary Guidance on face-to face evaluations has been issued during COVID-19 (DOT, 2019c).

When would an employee need a DOT qualified SAP?

An employee who fails or refuses a DOT drug test will be required to work with a SAP before returning to safety-sensitive duties. This includes employees of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The Return-To-Duty process is the same for all circumstances, even when an employee refuses or fails a pre-employment drug test (ASAP, 2020).

Finding DOT qualified SAPs: Tips for employers and employees

Employers are required to provide a list of DOT qualified SAPs for all employees following a failed or refused drug test. The employee must immediately be removed from safety-sensitive job duties and given the resources to start the Return-To-Duty process. American Substance Abuse Professionals, Inc. (ASAP) is a DOT (2019b) qualified SAP resource with SAP services throughout the United States. We can provide a list of DOT qualified SAPs in your area. Note that you are required to provide a DOT qualified SAP list even if you choose to terminate the employee. Call 888-792-2727 to learn more about our employer and employee SAP services from our knowledgeable agents.

If you are an employee and have failed or refused a DOT drug test, the first step in returning to work is finding a DOT qualified SAP. At ASAP, we have more than 5,000 DOT-qualified SAPs ready to assist you. For over 23 years we have helped our clients return to work with an 85% success rate. To find a SAP near you, contact us at 888-792-2727 to enroll today. We strive to schedule appointments within 48 hours of enrollment.


ASAP. (2020). Does a failed pre-employment drug test go on your record. Retrieved from

Department of Transportation. (2019a). What employees need to know about DOT drug and alcohol testing. Retrieved from

Department of Transportation. (2019b). DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 40 Section 40.281. Retrieved from

Department of Transportation. (2019c). DOT COVID-19 Drug & Alcohol Testing Statement of Enforcement Discretion for Substance Abuse Professionals and Service Agents. Retrieved from


Do you need Substance Abuse Professional Services?

ASAP has a nationwide reach in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Our trained and knowledgeable team will assist you in understanding the process and signing up. It’s fast and easy to enroll with ASAP! 888.792.2727 x607

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