The return to duty process is a necessary step for truck drivers who have been suspended or cited for a violation. This process is designed to help ensure that these drivers are able to return to the road safely and legally. It typically involves alcohol and drug testing, training, and evaluation to ensure that the driver is fit to return to duty. Completing the return to duty process can be a time-consuming and sometimes challenging process, but it’s an important step in maintaining the safety of the roads and the integrity of the trucking industry.
Drug and Alcohol Violations
The FMCSA has implemented a drug and alcohol clearinghouse (the importance of annual dot clearinghouse queries) database as part of its efforts to improve safety on the roads. This database is a centralized, electronic database that allows employers, law enforcement officials, and other relevant parties to access information about a driver’s drug and alcohol test results, as well as any violations or refusals to submit to a test.
For drivers who have violated the DOT’s drug and alcohol regulations, the return to duty process is a necessary step in order to be able to return to work.
How to Complete the Return to Duty Process
For commercial drivers, completing the return to duty process can be time-consuming and challenging. However, most are able to return to work provided they follow and complete the steps outlined below.
Have a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) Evaluation
This evaluation is conducted by a qualified SAP who’s trained to assess an individual’s substance abuse history and make recommendations for education, treatment, or follow-up testing.
The SAP evaluation typically involves a face-to-face interview with the driver, during which the SAP will ask questions about the driver’s substance use history, including any previous treatment or education programs they may have completed. The SAP may also review the driver’s medical history and conduct a physical examination, if necessary.
Based on the information gathered during the evaluation, the SAP will make recommendations for education, treatment, or follow-up testing. These recommendations must be followed by the driver in order for them to be able to return to work.
Complete the SAP’s Specified Action Plan
This plan may include education courses, counseling, or other forms of treatment as recommended by the SAP.
Drivers need to complete their SAP’s treatment and/or education plan to be able to return to work. Failure to do so can result in further penalties or suspension of their CDL. By following the SAP’s recommendations, drivers can ensure that they can return to work safely and avoid future violations of the DOT’s drug and alcohol regulations.
Complete Follow-Up with SAP
At the appointment, the SAP will review the driver’s progress in completing their treatment and/or education plan, and may conduct a physical examination if needed.
The SAP will then provide the driver with a written report outlining their findings and recommendations. This report must be submitted to the driver’s employer, who will use it to determine whether the driver is fit to return to work.
Follow-Up Drug and Alcohol Testing
To be legally cleared to drive again you must successfully complete a return to duty drug and alcohol test. This test is conducted by an SAP and requires you to produce negative test results.
In addition, you’ll be required to participate in at least 6 more drug and alcohol tests over the course of the next year. This testing requirement may continue for up to 5 years.
It’s important to successfully complete these tests in order to maintain your ability to drive commercially and avoid further penalties or suspension of your commercial driver’s license.
For further tips on minimizing unsafe driving behaviors and preventing truck crashes, visit our blog.
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