What is a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation -- 49 CFR Part 40 --
defines the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) as a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment,
follow-up testing, and aftercare.
A SAP is an advocate for neither the employer nor the employee. His/her
recommendations protect the public safety in the event that the employee returns to the performance of safety-sensitive functions.
A DOT recognized Substance Abuse Professional must be one of the
A licensed physician (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy)
A licensed or certified social worker
A licensed or certified psychologist
A licensed or certified employee assistance professional
A state-licensed or certified marriage and family therapist *
A certified or licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor **
The DOT regulations also require that SAP’s complete the training and pass a
nationally recognized examination. This program includes information on the nine required content areas as designated in DOT Section 281(c) of Part 40. Content areas include an overview of the DOT
drug and alcohol testing program, the drug and alcohol testing rules, and key DOT drug testing requirements.
What does a SAP do?
The SAP's fundamental responsibility is to provide a comprehensive
face-to-face assessment and clinical evaluation to determine what level of assistance the employee needs in resolving problems associated with alcohol use or prohibited drug use. The SAP then
recommends a course of education and/or treatment with which the employee must demonstrate successful compliance prior to returning to DOT safety-sensitive duty. Treatment recommendations can include
but are not limited to In-patient treatment, partial in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment, education programs, and aftercare. Education recommendations can include but are not limited to
approved drug and alcohol education courses, self-help groups. Upon the determination of the best recommendation for assistance, the SAP will serve as a referral source to assist the employee's entry
into an acceptable program.
Evaluations performed by non-qualified SAP will not be accepted by DOT and will delay your return to work. Fines may be imposed on any employer who uses a non-qualified SAP in the return-to-duty
Your SAP must understand alcohol and drug regulations to these six industries.
FMCSA - Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration
FAA - Federal Aviation Administration
FRA - Federal Railroad Administration
FTA - Federal Transit Authority
USCG - United States Coast Guard
PHMSA - Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration