When a driver fails or refuses a drug or alcohol test, it gets very ugly for him or her. And complicated.

Employers and drivers need to understand the Return To Duty process. This is very important.

Once a Substance Abuse Professional is selected, the driver must designate the SAP in the Clearinghouse. And a SAP must approve a designation request before entering a driver’s information.

Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) are required to record certain information about a driver’s Return-to-Duty (RTD) process in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Before a SAP can enter RTD information about a driver, the SAP will need to receive and approve that driver’s request in the Clearinghouse to become the driver’s designated SAP.

That means the driver must initiate the request.

Drivers are encouraged to contact a SAP and establish a relationship before to designating the SAP in the Clearinghouse. That way the SAP is expecting the request. If a SAP receives a designation request from a driver with whom they have not had previous contact, the SAP should reach out to the driver prior to accepting the request. They should, anyway.

For details on responding to SAP designation requests, download the How to Report RTD Information Job Aid (pdf).

What Do SAPs Report in the Clearinghouse?

Once a SAP accepts a designation request from a driver, the SAP is able to report information about that driver’s Return-to-Duty (RTD) process in the Clearinghouse.

The SAP will only record two entries in the Clearinghouse for each driver:

  • The date of the initial SAP assessment
  • The date the SAP determines that the driver is eligible for RTD testing.

Once the driver is determined eligible for RTD testing, the driver’s employer must direct the driver to take the RTD test. If the driver is not currently employed, s/he will need to secure employment with an employer willing to “sponsor” them through the remainder of the RTD process. The employer is also responsible for recording when a driver has a negative RTD test result, and has successfully completed the follow-up testing plan.

If the driver cannot find employment, then s/he may have to form his own company as an Owner Operator, and find a C/TPA willing to take him on and manage the process. That may come at a cost, but may be the only way to legally get back on the road


Check out Tim discussing 6 FMCSA Drug Testing Requirements