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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Q&As for Safety-Sensitive Employees

What steps must I take to return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions after I violated the FAA's drug and alcohol testing regulation?
You cannot return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions after violating the FAA's drug and alcohol testing regulation [14 CFR part 120] until you complete the steps described in 49 CFR part 40, subpart O. The first step in the return-to-duty process is for your employer to provide you with a list of qualified Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP). The subsequent steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: You must meet with the SAP for a face-to-face evaluation. The SAP must recommend education and/or treatment and document the evaluation in a written report that is provided to your current or future employer.
  • Step 2: The SAP must re-evaluate you in a follow-up face-to-face meeting to determine if you successfully completed the education and/or treatment recommendations. If the SAP is satisfied, he or she must issue a written report to your current or future employer indicating whether your education and/or treatment was or was not successful.
  • Step 3: Before an employer can return you to safety-sensitive work, you must take a return-to-duty test under direct observation and receive a verified negative drug test result and/or an alcohol test with an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02.
  • Step 4: After you return to work, you will be subject to follow-up drug and/or alcohol testing under direct observation, as directed by the SAP. Follow-up testing follows you through any breaks in service or from one employer to another.

If you hold a FAA part 67 medical certificate and wish to return to the performance of duties requiring such a certificate you must comply with any requirements imposed by your Aviation Medical Examiner or Regional Flight Surgeon and obtain an airman medical certificate issued by the Federal Air Surgeon dated after the date of your violation. The steps you must take to obtain your medical certificate are independent from the requirements your employer must follow to return you to duty (as described above), and both are required.

NOTE: If you have an on-duty alcohol use violation, you are permanently disqualified from performing the safety-sensitive function you performed prior to the violation.