Getting a SAP Evaluation from the Department of Transportation

January 24, 2017
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

By CCI Team

SAP stands for Substance Abuse Professional. While anyone who has ever worked for public transport is required to undergo drug screening prior to beginning work, employees who have caused an incident or been caught breaking this rule will find themselves in front of an SAP. Sometimes the DOT performs random drug screenings, and that is how many offenders get in trouble.

These parameters are put in place to protect the public, but that doesn’t make it any less of a hassle for the employees who need SAP evaluation. Here’s what to expect from the process:

Standard Pre-employment Drug Screening

Drug screening is a necessary step for anyone beginning work as a driver for public transportation. The initial screening requires basic drug testing, which means you will have to find a qualified lab. They will then run the SAP evaluation based on your urine. You will have to leave all items at the front desk and fill a specimen cup in the restroom. Depending on what your employer requires, this may be monitored. The urine is then checked for the temperature to prevent fraud and sent off to a lab. A negative result means no drugs were detected in the urine, whereas a positive result indicates the opposite. If you come up positive, you’re going to need an SAP evaluation.

SAP Evaluation Following a Failed Drug Screening

If you’ve been caught unaware by a surprise test, or something happened that put you under suspicion by the DOT, then you’re going to have to find a substance abuse professional to perform an evaluation. This goes way beyond a drug test. If you haven’t been caught outright, you will likely need to fail a drug test in addition to whatever happened to bring you into question before you end up in front of an SAP.

During the substance abuse evaluation, you will sit down with a trained SAP and have a clinical assessment. This person is familiar with addictive behaviors, and they will be able to tell if someone is likely to repeat the offense. Based on this conversation, they may make a recommendation for treatment programs. After successfully completing the treatment program, you will have a follow-up SAP evaluation.

The SAP has to provide you and your employer with an official write-up of both evaluations and any treatment recommendations. They may also suggest additional drug screenings or treatment sessions. Once the process is completed, they mark you as either compliant or non-compliant.

It is important to note here that a SAP evaluator does not make a recommendation to your employer regarding your future employment. They are an impartial evaluator put in place to protect the safety of the public. Even if you are judged as not in compliance, your employer could still choose to work with you. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. Compliance doesn’t guarantee your job. The best way to stay out of a SAP evaluator’s office is simply to follow the DOT guidelines and not partake in prohibited substances.

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