Every action has a consequence. Wether big or small they can be seen as learning opportunities, and with that comes the hope of second chances. Second chances are very valuable, however, they are not given profusely and take much time or effort to develop trust. The return to duty drug test and process is a second chance to get back to working on the road for those individuals who have committed a dot drug violation.
What is the Return to Duty Drug Test?
In order to stay compliant with the fmcsa or dot, cdl drivers and employers must follow strict guidelines and regulations. If these regulations are ignored or broken they will have to pay the price and must go through tough screening.
Additionally, any employee that performs safety-sensitive functions must be removed immediately to ensure the safety of others. Depending on the employer, they might terminate the employee immediately upon receiving the first positive drug test result from a medical review officer due to them being a liability.
The FMCSA reported 846 drug abuse incidents as of April 2021. Fewer than 17,000 commercial truck drivers have been granted permission to go back to work after completing the return to duties process in a timely fashion. This is about 16.3% returning to duty.
The return to duty drug test is often given after their first positive test or refusal to take a test. It is also given after an employee has violated a drug and alcohol policy under the company they work for.
However, taking the return to duty test isn’t always the result of a violation, sometimes employees who have taken a long leave of absence must also take the test.
It is important to note that the return to duty test is different than the pre-employment drug testing. The return to duty drug test is made after disobeying a regulation and taking a recovery program.
Meanwhile, the pre employment drug test is made before being hired to drive for a company and testing with no need of supervision.
Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
One of the dot return to duty requirements is that an employee must visit a substance abuse professional (SAP) for an evaluation.
A certified substance abuse professional is a reliable individual that has successfully demonstrated his/her capability in their industry with proper credentials to administering resource programs.
The SAP will have specific knowledge on treating and diagnosing drug and alcohol-related habits or disorders.
If the SAP deems it necessary, the individual will also have to complete further treatment after the initial evaluation. Therefore, the administered test and the SAP will be the key factors in determining if the employee is eligible to return to duty.
The SAP will determine if you did or didn’t cooperated with the their plans. If you didn’t then they will notify your designated employer representative.
Education and Treatment Program
As part of the dot return to duty process, the individual must follow a education and treatment program recommended to them by the SAP.
During this step, the program will help the individual overcome their reliance on these substances. They may provide materials and communicate the hazards or risks associated with misusing alcohol, prescriptions, and illegal drugs.
Education can take place in the form of courses, community lectures, or self-help groups. The treatments may range from inpatient, outpatient, or aftercare services.
If a substance abuse professional sees that the treatment was successful, then he/she will send a report of compliance to your employer or potential employer. Then you will be sent to take the return-to-duty test.
The test results must come back as negative or else you will have committed a new violation. If you receive a positive result then you will be required to start the return to duty process all over again from the beginning. Thus, you will have to take another assessment and recommendation for treatment by the SAP.
Additionally, if the SAP determines that you weren’t cooperative then they will send a non-compliance report to your employer.
Return to Duty Test Follow-Up’s
Receiving a negative return to duty test result and returning to work doesn’t mean that the driver is done with the return-to-duty process. The employee must partake in multiple follow-up evaluation and drug tests.
Therefore, it is required by the DOT that the SAP schedules at least six follow-up tests over a 12-month period of time. Also, each follow up test schedule must be conducted under direct observation to prevent tampering of sample.
The SAP can tell you take tests even after the first year of working. Therefore, this entire process can continue for a while and you must save documentation of up to five years, including the negative return to duty follow up test results.
From hereon it is the employer’s responsible to ensure the employee follows the SAP’s plan, but cannot impose additional testing for the employee themselves.
All follow-up tests will be unannounced and unplanned. Also, the follow-up test cannot be substitute as other tests.
For example, if that employee is selected for a random testing by the consortium from a pool of other cdl drivers, it cannot be counted as a follow-up test at the same time.
If you are a cdl driver in need of taking a return to duty drug test consider visiting Consortium Pool. Our team will help cdl drivers and employers become dot compliant with our cdl drug testing consortium program and services.