Experienced senior trucker next to big rig.

For commercial drivers, there is nothing more unsettling than a substance abuse violation. It kicks off many automatic processes by your employer and the Department of Transportation (DOT). It creates tension between you and your employer. But more than anything, it puts your livelihood at risk. 

The good news is the DOT’s mandated Substance Abuse Professional program (SAP) is clear. The SAP DOT is also relatively straightforward to follow. 

Though your violation stays in the Clearinghouse for five years, there are things you can do now. It behooves CDL drivers to progress through the DOT SAP process efficiently. And what is a substance abuse professional but someone to help you efficiently get back on the road? 

The SAP program can be long, taking on average between a year and five years, with follow up testing factored in. With that said, here are seven ways to help you prepare for your next SAP evaluation: 

1. Do Your Research 

We mentioned the DOT qualified SAP process is relatively straightforward. But that doesn’t mean the government will lay it bare for you. It pays to do research of your own so you know what is (and more importantly what isn’t) a part of the program. 

Many online resources can help shine a light on the process. One such resource is our blog, which covers the SAP program in depth. 

2. Gather Relevant Documents 

Your case likely has a lot of documentation if the police were involved. Police reports, medical records, and employer documentation should all be collected prior to meeting with the DOT qualified SAP. 

3. Understand Your Company Policies 

Every employer in the United States is going to have slightly different substance abuse rules 

While your SAP is there to help you through the DOT SAP program, they are not there as an encyclopedia of employment policies. By bringing your employer’s policy to the table, you can help the SAP know what the two of you are aiming for. 

4. Talk to a Lawyer 

It never hurts to seek legal representation, especially when alleged violations of the law are concerned. They may be able to help guide you as a confidant in ways that the DOT SAP cannot. 

5. Talk to a Specialist 

A violation can be a traumatic event. Go into your SAP evaluation with a clearer head by first helping to address some of the issues you may be dealing with. 

6. Stay Clean 

A CDL driver can only progress through the DOT SAP program and the return to duty process with one thing. Namely: consistently negative substance abuse tests. And the only way to get a negative is to abstain from controlled substances in the first place. 

If you expect you will not pass your screening, it also pays to be honest with your SAP per the DOT. This will help the process move smoothly, even if you cannot progress. 

7. Be Ready for What Comes Next 

The DOT-mandated SAP program is fairly straightfoward, but that does not mean it is carved in stone. New mandates, laws, or employer policies can happen at any time. So go into this with a clear intention and a readiness for what comes next in the process. 

For drivers who have suffered a substance abuse violation and don’t know what to expect, there is hope. The best way to be ready is to rely on a return-to-work resource designed just for them. At American River Wellness, we give CDL drivers the insights they need to step into a DOT SAP evaluation. 

See how we can help you with your DOT SAP Evaluation today!