Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and the Clearinghouse

The long-awaited Clearinghouse will go into effect on January 6, 2020.  The Clearinghouse Database will house DOT drug & alcohol testing violations.  How does this affect the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)?

First off FMCSA regulated drivers who have violations will have a requirement to select a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) in the Clearinghouse.  A violation is a DOT positive test (drugs or alcohol) or a refusal to test for drugs or alcohol. After a violation, the driver is removed from his/her DOT FMCSA safety-sensitive job duties and provided a list of SAP’s. The driver must contact an SAP and go through the return to duty process if they want to get back into a DOT FMCSA safety-sensitive job.

The SAP process with a driver is to evaluate the driver and make recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.  An initial evaluation and final evaluation is required live and in person prior to releasing the individual for return to duty to a DOT FMCSA safety-sensitive job duty.

The SAP will be a user in the Clearinghouse.  SAP’s must register and create an account to access the Clearinghouse.  Registration is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. SAPs will use the Clearinghouse to report specific information about a CDL driver’s return-to-duty (RTD) activities.  Very specifically, SAP’s will report on the return to duty initial assessment and on the drivers’ eligibility for return to duty testing. The information for reporting must include the date of completion of the initial assessment, and the date the SAP determines that the driver is eligible for return to duty testing. The SAP reporting to the Clearinghouse must include:

  • Driver’s name, date of birth, commercial driver’s license (CDL) number, and State of issuance;
  • Date of initial assessment; and
  • Date the SAP determined the driver demonstrated successful compliance with education and treatment requirements and is eligible for return-to-duty (RTD) testing.  

The reporting for the completion of the initial assessment must be the following business day after the assessment.  The reporting for the successful compliance with education and treatment requirement and eligibility for return-to-duty (RTD) testing must be the next business day after this determination.

The employer has an additional responsibility regarding drivers completing the SAP program and returning to duty.  The employer must report the negative return to duty test. The employer will also be required to report the date the driver successfully completes the follow-up tests that were required by the Substance Abuse Professional.

In summary, a driver violation and the return to duty process must be recorded in the Clearinghouse as follows:

  • Employers or consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) report alcohol test violations and employer-determined refusals to test.
  • Medical Review Officers (MRO’s) report drug test violation information MRO determined refusal.
  • SAP enters the date of the initial evaluation assessment and the date of the final evaluation and release for return for duty testing  
  • Employers enter the negative result on the return to duty testing
  • Employers report the date of the successful completion of the follow-up testing that was required by the SAP

Follow up testing required by the SAP may be a minimum of six tests in a 6-month period following return to duty and can include additional tests lasting up to 60 months following return to duty.  The return to duty tests and the follow-up tests must be taken under direct observation.

SAP’s can contact Clearinghouse Services, Inc with questions about the Clearinghouse or for a membership program for ongoing assistance.