SAP DOT Clinical Evaluation

CDL DOT Driver Substance Abuse Assessment

What is a SAP and why would you need such an evaluation?

A Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person certified to evaluate employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and who makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.
A SAP provides the analysis and assessment (and in some cases the only assessment) an employer may have in determining whether or not to keep an employee in the service of the public (i.e., 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). The SAP’s responsibility to the public is enormous.

A SAP is an advocate for neither the employer nor the employee. The SAP’s 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.


  • Have you received a positive substance abuse evaluation?
  • Were you informed that you must obtain a substance abuse evaluation as a condition of employment, or consideration for continued employment?
  • If you have answered yes to the questions above, you need a SAP evaluation.

Employees who perform safety-sensitive duties under US Department of Transportation (DOT) rules (such as truck drivers) must have an evaluation by a qualified Substance Abuse Professional when they are in violation of DOT rules (for a positive test or a refusal to test). Balanced Living has a Department of Transportation qualified SAP and can perform these evaluations, which involve specialized assessment and compliance reports, as well as a return-to-work assessment. The fixed fee for this process is practice is $500.00, payable at the time of the initial appointment, in cash, or credit card. This fee is not billable to health insurance. Employers may choose to pay for SAP evaluations. we only work with those arrangements if the employer contacts Balanced Living directly.

After the SAP evaluation, DOT rules require the employee to complete the course of treatment or education recommended by the SAP. The $500 fee does not include the cost of these recommended services. Education (when no substance use disorder has been found) is not covered by insurance. Treatment for substance use disorders may be covered by insurance.

Employee Assistance Professionals are also helping to serve the needs of the organization, especially when an employee is formally referred due to some sort of job performance issue. The SAP has a third responsibility that overrides the other two: serving the public safety. The rules were written this way so that people with substance abuse problems can get the help they need to turn things around, without fearing the loss of their livelihood. Once they complete the SAP’s recommendations, they may be considered for return to safety-sensitive duty. (However, employers are not obligated to keep them as employees and may choose to terminate their employment even if they are compliant with the SAP process). Employees who are in violation are required to be kept from any safety sensitive duty (with any DOT-regulated employer) until the SAP’s recommendations have been completed and a return-to duty assessment has been conducted.

The employer and the SAP are responsible for making sure that the employee is not allowed to return to safety-sensitive duty until he or she has followed all the recommendations. Many people with substance abuse problems are very reluctant to admit that they have a problem.

The provider of treatment (who must not have any financial connection with the SAP) needs to stay in communication with the SAP, to be able to say with some certainty that any substance abuse problem has been successfully dealt with. This usually means completion of treatment and starting aftercare. This can take time, and employees are often very anxious to return to work. However, the SAP must do everything possible to ensure that no employee is allowed to work until the psychological or behavioral issues that have led to the rule violation have been fully addressed in treatment; because future misuse of substances would be likely to result in the employee being impaired or unfit for duty. This could place the employee and the public at risk.


Employers with US DOT safety-sensitive employees are required to have drug and alcohol testing and removal-from-duty policies that are compliant with DOT regulations. Supervisors must receive training, and safety-sensitive employees must be tested for drugs and/or alcohol according to the modal rules.

Any employee who violates the rules must stand down and be referred to a Substance Abuse Professional for an evaluation and recommended services before returning to duty. Balanced Living Counseling Center is available to perform these evaluations and coordinate the return-to-duty process. I have developed relationships with numerous local treatment programs and make recommendations designed to help assure that employees gain understanding, take responsibility, and refrain from further prohibited conduct. We use the SASSI and other measures to assess for substance abuse and mental health problems. We send reports promptly to the DER and maintain close communication with treatment providers.

Balanced Living is also available to provide training for supervisors on DOT regulations, and to consult on policy development and compliance. I have worked with trucking companies, railroad maintenance firms, public utilities, and municipalities on DOT violation situations over the past ten years. You may refer employees with confidence that their return-to-duty process will be handled responsibly and professionally to help protect the employer – whether the employee demonstrates compliance or not.

Some employers choose to pay for employees’ SAP evaluations, and others leave the cost to the employee’s responsibility.

If you have an employee who reports a problem with substance abuse and seeks assistance, Balanced Living also are paneled with several EAP programs, and we can provide substance abuse treatment on the front end and hopefully prevent an incident in the first place.

The Process

The evaluation process includes the following:

Face to face interviews. It is the SAP’s responsibility to determine whether there is a substance abuse problem present, and, if so, what level of treatment is appropriate. Note that DOT rules require a recommendation for some level of substance abuse education or treatment for each case. At the time of the first interview, an appointment is set for a follow-up evaluation. The SAP recommends one or more treatment providers.

An initial evaluation report is sent to the employer.

The SAP maintains regular contact with the treatment provider to ensure compliance with the treatment plan and suitability of the level of service.

The follow-up evaluation is conducted to determine successful compliance and completion of the recommended treatment. A “Notice of Compliance,” or a “Notice of Noncompliance,” is sent to the employer. If the employee has successfully completed the treatment, the “Notice of Compliance” will include a schedule for follow-up drug testing and any recommendations for aftercare.

If requested, the SAP will monitor the employee’s recovery by conducting regular face to face interviews and revisiting any follow-up testing program when appropriate. Fees for this service may be over and above the initial evaluation fee.

SAP Evaluations and Fees:

To schedule an SAP Evaluation or DUI Clinical evaluation, call Balanced Living at 706-509-0130, to schedule a SAP evaluation or Drug and Alcohol Counselor evaluation (for self-identified employees). Please note that the fee for SAP Evaluation is $500, payable at the time of the first evaluation. The DOT Return-to-Duty process requires that the employee complete either treatment or education services before the SAP’s return-to-duty evaluation. These services are not covered by the $500 fee and must be provided by someone who has no financial connection with the SAP. Balanced Living SAP provider will make treatment recommendations and will complete a treatment referral as appropriate.


107 Enterprise Path, Suite#301
Hiram, Ga 30141

106 E 5 th Ave
Rome, GA 30161

412 East First Street
Rome, GA 30161

306 N Thornton Ave
Dalton, GA 30720
Phone: 706-509-0130
Fax: 706-237-6503


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