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What Is the DOT Return-to-Duty Process? September 7, 2017

Artesia, Eddy
What Is the DOT Return-to-Duty Process?, Artesia, New Mexico

A “Safety Sensitive” employee of a regulated U.S. Department of Transportation company must undergo a rigorous process in cooperation with a DOT SAP (DOT-Qualified Substance Abuse Professional) before returning to duty if they tested positive for drugs or alcohol. A refusal to be tested counts as a violation, the same as testing positive. If an employee who has failed a drug or alcohol test wants to continue working in the transportation industry, he or she must take the necessary steps in the “Return-to-Duty” process. Artesia Drug and Alcohol Screening in Eddy County, NM, a trusted resource for organizations and businesses who require employee evaluations under 49 CFR Part 40, Subpart O, explains the process.

The DOT Return-to-Duty Process

Meet With a DOT SAP

DOT SAPAn employee who has been relieved of duty due to a failed drug and/or alcohol test must undergo an in-person clinical evaluation with a DOT-Qualified SAP. The SAP will recommend an educational program and/or treatment and will send a report to the employer, citing those recommendations. The employee’s progress in the recommended treatment and/or education programs will be monitored by the SAP.

Participate in Follow-up Evaluation

When the employee has made sufficient progress based on observations by the Substance Abuse Professional, a follow-up evaluation will be scheduled. If it is determined the employee has fully complied with the recommended programs, the SAP will report those findings to the employer. If the employee has not complied, the report will indicate that instead.

Take a Return-to-Duty Test

If the employee has been successful in completing the treatment and programs, their company can decide whether to return them to “Safety- Sensitive Duty” — but it is under no obligation to do so. If the employee has been invited to return to the job, arrangements can be made for a "Return-to-duty” drug or alcohol test. If the employee has not been successful in completing the programs, they will not be able to return to  safety-sensitive duty for any DOT regulated employer until recommendations are fully met and the employee tests negative in a “Return-to-duty” test.


If you are a DOT employer or an employer who requires drug and/or alcohol testing for your employees, rely on the professionals at Artesia Drug and Alcohol Screening to provide accurate, timely results. Call (575) 746-3404 or visit them online for more information about the testing services they offer.

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