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June 28, 2021 E-Blast

ODAPC Extends Virtual Assessments to December 31, 2021

By now you probably know that ODAPC has extended the date for virtual assessments to December 31, 2021.  DOT sent an e-mail notification to all SAPs on its listserv on or around June 1.  If you didn’t receive it, it could be because you haven’t registered your e-mail address on ODAPC’s listserv. 
Being registered on ODAPC’s listserv is a requirement for your qualification as a SAP.  This is how ODAPC will notify you of information and changes regarding DOT's drug testing regulation.  Under 40.281(b), if your e-mail address isn’t registered on ODAPC’s listserv, you aren’t qualified to provide SAP services.  Please register as soon as you can.  To register:
ODAPC’s listserv will ask for ONLY your e-mail address.  Nothing more.  Not even your name.  If you have several e-mail addresses, you could enter more than one.  If your e-mail address is in their system, you’ll get a message.
ODAPC’s listserv is NOT the Clearinghouse.  These two things are two separate notification systems.  As a SAP, you must be registered on BOTH.
Meanwhile, virtual assessments continue until Dec 30, 2021.  Two reminders:
a) If you have a state-issued license, be sure that you check into whether or not your licensure permits you to provide services remotely, to a client in another state, and
b) Be sure to include a statement on your Follow-up Evaluation Reports that “this process was conducted remotely”, and you must indicate the platform that you used.  (Zoom, telehealth, etc.)

Please Read the Clearinghouse FAQs

Understanding how the Clearinghouse functions is basic to being a SAP.  Please read FMCSA’s document of FAQs about the Clearinghouse.  Print it (12 pages), and keep it on your bedside table for when you have trouble falling asleep.

Upcoming SAP Update Trainings

EAPA’s virtual 90-minute Advanced SAP Symposium, 1st Tuesday of every month, led by Tamara Cagney
EAPA’s 2-day SAP Review and Update, on September 27-28, in Houston, following the World Conference.  Registration is not yet open.

Message to All SAPS:

In recent weeks several SAPs have told me that an employee who was having trouble finding a job was requesting a refund.  Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you ever refund your SAP fee.  If the driver is having trouble finding a job, that’s the driver’s problem, not your problem.  You didn’t cause the problem; the driver did.  You are done.
In one case, the driver requested a refund because he decided to “give up his CDL.”  But guess what?  I expect that 6 months from now this driver will probably decide to go back to driving, he will get hired, and his SAP will receive a request for his return-to-duty paperwork.
A SAP told me that the driver was blaming the SAP for “closing the door” on his chance to get hired again.  I advised the SAP to tell the driver that actually HE (the driver) is the one who “closed the door” when he used drugs. 
Once you have collected your SAP fee and conducted a SAP assessment, there is no reason for you to refund your fee or any part of it.  The employee has received what he came to you for.  The ball is now in his court.  You are done.
Finding a job has become such a challenge for drivers that SAPs should consider adding a speech at the end of the follow-up evaluation, warning the driver that it might not be easy to find a new job, but that there is nothing that you can do to help them.  You are done.

A New Twist... For SAPs Who Accept Credit Cards

Here’s a recent experience of a SAP.  The driver had been terminated.  After completing a SAP process, the driver was having trouble finding a job with a new employer.  (As indicated above, more and more employers won’t hire an employee who had a violation and who has just completed a SAP process.)  The SAP's website had included statements like “We’ll get you back to work”, or “We guarantee quick turnaround; you’ll be back in the truck in no time”. 
The driver had paid his SAP fee using a credit card.  Frustrated at not finding a job, the driver called the 800# on the back of his credit card.  He complained that his SAP was not able to help him get back to work as promised.  He said that the entire process was a “scam”, the SAP had tricked him, and he wanted to have the charge removed from his account.  The credit card carrier understood this to be a job placement process, and they refunded the fee that the employee had paid the SAP.
The SAP tried to explain the DOT regulation (in writing only) to the credit card carrier.  However, DOT’s confidentiality regulation prohibited the SAP from divulging that the driver had tested positive for marijuana, so the SAP’s explanation ended up being quite vague.  In the end, the SAP lost the case, so he lost his SAP fee.
I have long said that a SAP should accept only cash, or a cashier’s check.  Credit card charges are vulnerable.  SAPs have even told me about personal checks with a Stop Payment.  So, if you accept credit cards, know that this could happen to you, especially when a driver gets frustrated in the current job market.  And because of how the regulation is written, you can’t hold up the process because of a payment dispute.  You can’t refuse to provide SAP services.

What You Have Said On Your Website Could Get You In Trouble...

What does your website say about “getting an employee back to work ASAP”?  I suggest you review your promo materials, and webpages.  Remove any reference to “a speedy process”.  Remove anything that implies or suggests that an employee will be able to return to work after completing your SAP process.  More correctly, an employee can be “considered for return to work”, or they will be “eligible to apply for a DOT-covered position”.  Avoid making this sound like your SAP process is a shoo-in to finding a new job, or that it will be easy for your client to slip back into the employment scene.  Comments like that could come back to bite you.

Driving Schools Still Don't Get It

Some driving schools (wrongly) require an applicant to take a DOT pre-employment test in order to get into school, before he even has a Commercial Learners Permit.  They don’t understand that when a student has a positive DOT pre-employment test, but doesn’t yet have a Commercial Learners Permit, this is NOT a DOT violation and there can’t be a SAP process.  The pre-entrance test should have been a plain vanilla non-DOT test, and if it was positive, the school should have simply told him they can’t accept him as a student.
Have you tried to explain this to a driving school DER?  And did you find that the DER didn’t believe you?  Here is a link to the regulation on FMCSA’s website:
I suggest you copy and e-mail this link directly to the DER so he can see it for himself. 

And, Unfortunately, Employers Don't Get It Either

Employers still don’t understand that THEY are the only one who can order a return-to-duty test, and THEY are the only one who can enter the date of a negative return-to-duty test on the driver’s dashboard in the Clearinghouse, and at that moment, the driver will be ELIGIBLE TO DRIVE.  A SAP cannot do this!
Many employers think this is the SAP's responsibility, and they tell the driver to “go back to the SAP and finish the process”.  This is a source of frustration for the driver, for the SAPs.  (And for me!)
In my e-mail last September 28, I linked to a document that I asked you to print in quantity, and give to each employee at the follow-up evaluation meeting.  Tell the employee to make copies of it, and hand a copy to every employer that he interviews with, or applies to.  It explains that ordering a return-to-duty test is NOT THE SAP's JOB, but that the new employer is responsible for ordering a return-to-duty test, and entering the date of the negative test result on the driver’s record in the Clearinghouse. 
Document: Notice to a Future FCMSA Employer
SAPs who have used this form tell me that it has solved the problem for them.  Please print it, make numerous copies, and give a copy to each of your clients. 

Story of the Month

A driver tested positive for THC.  She told the SAP that someone who “wants to get her in trouble” must have smeared CBD oil on her steering wheel.
Thank you to the SAP who sent this to me.  Keep those stories coming.  I know you’ve all got more than one!
By the way, here is the link to ODAPC’s CBD Notice on their website:

Archived e-mails from SAPlist

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SAPlist UREMINDER: SAPlist U For Your Continuing Ed Requirement

SAPlist U provides 12 hours of continuing education related to DOT's testing rules.  It is endorsed by EACC, NASW, and NBCC.  It’s online, convenient, and you can complete it at your own pace.

Go to SAPlist U Continuing Ed

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Until next time,

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Lee Mauk  | and SAPlist U
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