What is an SAP?

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

As a SAP you represent the major decision point (and in some cases the only decision point) an employer may have in choosing whether or not to place an employee behind the steering wheel of a school bus, in the cockpit of a plane, at the helm of an oil tanker, at the throttle of a train, in the engineer compartment of a subway car, or at the emergency control valves of a natural gas pipeline. Your responsibility to the public is enormous!

As a SAP you are advocate for neither the employer nor the employee. Your function is to protect the public interest in safety by professionally evaluating the employee and recommending appropriate education and/or treatment, follow-up tests, and aftercare

How The SAP Process Works:

  • Referral from Direct Employee Representative (DER).    
  • Set appointment with SAP for a one-on-one assessment / evaluation.
  • Administer testing tools: Addiction Severity Index (ASI) and Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI) and gather social history.
  • Recommend appropriate level of care.
  • Perform related case management and care coordination.
  • Follow-up Evaluation for compliance and return to safety sensitive duties.
  • Follow-up Testing plan.
  • Aftercare recommendations

Applicable Regulations

With the above in mind, it is important for SAPs to fully understand and comply with the regulations. Therefore, the SAP should be familiar with 49 CFR Part 40 while paying particular attention to the following Subparts:

Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) Guidelines

These guidelines, together with the 49 CFR Part 40, and the DOT Operating Administration rules, provide SAPs with the information needed in the performance of their DOT-related duties.  It is included here for your reference.ODAPC SAP Guide Aug09.pdf

Federal Agencies that fall under the SAP Process

As a service to you, the following is a listing of federal agencies that fall under the SAP process. Click on the links to review regulations and guidelines.

FMCSA – Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration

  •  commercial drivers license (CDL)  
  •  drivers of vehicles over 26,001 pounds  
  •  drivers of vehicles carrying hazardous material (HAZMAT)
  •  drivers of vehicles carrying 16 or more passengers

FTA – Federal Transit Administration

  •  bus drivers 
  •  subway and mass transit operators

FRA – Federal Railroad Administration

  •  engine, train, signal services workers
  •  operators and dispatchers

FAA – Federal Aviation Administration

  •  flight crewmembers, attendants, and instructors
  •  air traffic controllers
  •  aircraft dispatchers, maintenance personnel
  •  aviation screening staff
  •  ground security coordinators

USCG – United States Coast Guard

  •  all USCG officers and enlisted personnel
  •  all crew members on commercial vessels
  •  licensed captains and Great Lakes pilots

RSPA – Research and Special Programs Administration

  •  oil and pipeline workers
  •  operators and emergency response personnel