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What Employees Need To Know About DOT Alcohol & Drug Testing. Part 4.

What happens if I test positive, refuse a test, or violate an agency specific drug & alcohol rule?


If you test positive, refuse a test, or violate DOT drug & alcohol rules:

• A supervisor or company official will immediately remove you from DOT regulated safety-sensitive functions.
• You will not be permitted to return to performing DOT regulated safetysensitive duties until you have:
– Undergone an evaluation by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP);
– Successfully completed any education, counseling or treatment prescribed by the SAP prior to returning to service; and
– Provided a negative test result for drugs and a breath test less than 0.02 of alcohol. (Return to duty testing).
• Upon return to a safety-sensitive job, you will be subject to unannounced testing for drugs and/or alcohol no less than 6 times during the first 12
months of active service with the possibility of unannounced testing for up to 60 months (as prescribed by the SAP).


What are SAPs?

Under DOT regulations, SAPs are Substance Abuse Professionals. They play a critical role in the work place testing program by professionally evaluating employees who have violated DOT drug & alcohol rules. SAPs recommend appropriate education, treatment, follow-up tests, and aftercare. They are the gate-keepers to the re-entry program by determining when a safety-sensitive employee can be returned to duty.

SAPs are required to have a certain background and credentials, which include clinical experience in diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse-related disorders. They must also complete qualification training and fulfill obligations for continuing education courses. While SAPs do make recommendations to the employer about an employee’s readiness to perform safety-sensitive duties, SAPs are neither an advocate for the employee or the employer, and they make return-to-duty recommendations according to their professional and ethical standards as well as DOT’s regulations.


Remember: Even if a SAP believes that you are ready to return to work, an employer is under no obligation to return you to work. Under the
regulations, hiring and reinstatement decisions are left to the employer. Also, under FAA regulations, SAPs cannot return a pilot to duty without
the prior approval of the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon.


How do I find a SAP?

There are several resources to finding a SAP. If you violate a DOT drug or alcohol rule, your employer is required to provide you with a list of SAPs’
names, addresses and phone numbers that are available to you and acceptable to them. Also, several organizations, that offer SAP training, maintain lists of SAPs. Don’t forget to search the internet or check your local yellow pages for any SAP listings.


Will I lose my job if I violate drug & alcohol regulations?

DOT regulations do not address employment actions such as hiring, firing or granting leaves of absence. All employment decisions are the responsibility of the employers. Under Federal regulations, the main requirement for employers is to immediately remove employees from performing DOT safety-sensitive jobs. Be aware that a positive or refused DOT drug or alcohol test may trigger additional consequences based on company policy or employment agreement.


While you may not lose your job, you may lose your certification or license to perform that job. Be sure to check industry specific regulations. For example, someone operating a commercial motor vehicle may not lose their state-issued CDL, but they will lose their ability to perform any DOT regulated safetysensitive tasks.


Will my results be confidential?

Your test results are confidential. An employer or service agent (e.g. testing laboratory, MRO or SAP) is not permitted to disclose your test results to outside parties without your written consent. But, your test information may be released (without your consent) in certain situations, such as: legal proceedings, grievances, or administrative proceedings brought by you or on your behalf, which resulted from a positive or refusal. When the information is released, the employer must notify you in writing of any information they released.


Will the results follow me to different employers?

Yes, your drug & alcohol testing history will follow you to your new employer, if that employer is regulated by a DOT agency. Employers are required by law to provide records of your drug & alcohol testing history to your new employer. This is to ensure that you have completed the return-to-duty process and are being tested according to your follow-up testing plan.


What should I do if I have a drug or alcohol abuse problem?
Seek help. Jobs performed by safety-sensitive transportation employees keep America’s people and economy moving. Your work is a vital part of everyday life. Yet, by abusing drugs or alcohol, you risk your own life, your co-workers lives and the lives of the public. Most every community in the country has resources available to confidentially assist you through the evaluation and treatment of your problem. If you would

like to find a treatment facility close to you, check with your local yellow pages, local health department or visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services treatment facility locator at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. This site provides contact information for substance abuse treatment programs by state, city and U.S. Territory.

Also, many work-place programs are in place to assist employees and family members with substance abuse, mental health and other problems that affect their job performance. While they may vary by industry, here is an overview of programs that may be available to you:

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). While not required by DOT agency regulations, EAPs may be available to employees as a matter of company policy. EAPs are generally provided by employers or unions.

Note: Many employees believe they only need to contact an EAP counselor if they have a positive drug and/or alcohol test. Not true!
EAP programs vary considerably in design and scope. Some focus only on substance abuse problems; others undertake a broad brush approach to a range of employee and family problems. Some include prevention, health and wellness activities. Some are linked to the employee health benefit structures. These programs offer nearly full privacy and confidentiality, unless someone’s life is in danger.
Do you know what programs are available at your job? Be sure to ask your employer!


Voluntary Referral Programs

Often sponsored by employers or unions, referral programs provide an opportunity to self-report to your employer a substance abuse problem before you violate testing rules. This gives you an opportunity for evaluation and treatment, while at times guaranteeing your job. Be sure to check your company to see if there is a voluntary referral program.
Remember: Self-reporting just after being notified of a test does not release you from your responsibility of taking the test, and it also does not
qualify as a voluntary referral.


Peer Reporting Programs

Generally sponsored by employers or unions, you are encouraged or required to identify co-workers with substance abuse problems. The safety of everyone depends on it. Using peers to convince troubled friends and co-workers with a problem is one of the strengths of the program, often guaranteeing the co-worker struggling with substance abuse issues the same benefits as if he had self-reported.


Education and Training Programs (required by all Agencies) Topics may include the effects of drugs & alcohol use, company testing policies, DOT testing regulations and the consequences of a positive test. Materials may also contain information on how employees can get in touch
with their Employee Assistance Programs and community service hot-lines. In addition, supervisors sometimes receive additional training in the
identification and documentation of signs and symptoms of employee’s drug and/or alcohol use that trigger a reasonable suspicion drug or alcohol test.


Did you know?

Did you know that 6 out of 10 people suffering from substance abuse problems also suffer from mental conditions like depression?
Research has long documented that people suffering from depression try to self-medicate themselves through alcohol and other drugs. Typically, many of these individuals fail to remain clean and sober after rehabilitation because their underlying medical problem is not addressed and the cycle of self-medication begins again.

Remember: If you have substance abuse issues, there is a 60% chance that you are also suffering from an underlying mental condition like depression.Increase your chances of rehabilitation. Be sure to ask your doctor or other mental health professionals about depression as it relates to substance abuse issues.


But, I have more questions?
ODAPC is available to help answer anyone’s questions regarding DOT drug & alcohol testing regulations. Please contact us at 202-366-DRUG (3784) or visit our website at www.dot.gov/ost/dapc for frequently asked questions, official interpretations of the regulations and regulatory guidelines.

If you have questions regarding DOT agency regulations on a specific industry, contact the following agencies


· FAA Aviation -(202) 267-8442- www.faa.gov
· FMCSAMotor Carrier -(202) 366-2096- www.fmcsa.dot.gov
· FTA Public Transportation- (617) 494-2395- www.fta.dot.gov
· FRA Railroads- (202) 493-6313- www.fra.dot.gov
· PHMSA Pipeline- (202) 550-0629- www.phmsa.dot.gov
· USCG Maritime -(202) 372-1033- http://marineinvestigations.us


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