Everyone with a CDL needs to know about the following new development from DOT: As of January 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) is establishing the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse). This new database will contain information about drug and alcohol violations. All violations of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) controlled substances (drug) and alcohol testing program for holders of CDLs will now be recorded in a central database. Violations include positive drug and alcohol test and refusals to test for both pre-employment and employer tests.
The Clearinghouse rule requires FMCSA-regulated employers, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs), and other service agents to report violations of the drug and alcohol regulations in 49 Code of Federal Regulations, parts 40 and 382, by current and prospective employees.
The Clearinghouse will require the following:
Employers to query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads.
Employers to annually query the Clearinghouse for every driver they currently employ.
State Driver Licensing Agencies to query the Clearinghouse whenever a CDL is issued, renewed, transferred, or upgraded.
The Clearinghouse will provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV based on DOT drug and alcohol program violations and ensure that such drivers receive the required SAP evaluation and treatment before operating a CMV on public roads. While other drivers are required to pay $450.00+ for SAP evaluations, these SAP services are available to members of participating trust funds through TAP and TARP.
Specifically, information maintained in the Clearinghouse will:
Enable employers to identify drivers who commit a drug or alcohol program violation while doing safety-sensitive duty including driving.
Identify drivers who get a violation while working for one employer and don’t notify their other employers. This is actually required by current regulations but now there will be a way to check.
Maintain records of drug and alcohol program violations in the Clearinghouse for five years, or until the driver has completed the assessment by the SAP and followed their treatment recommendations, whichever is later. If drivers do not complete the SAP process the violation will stay in the Clearinghouse forever.
On January 6, 2020, mandatory use of the Clearinghouse goes into effect. Employers must report drug and alcohol violations and conduct electronic queries in the Clearinghouse every year on every employee. They must also query the Clearinghouse before hiring any new driver. Until January 6, 2023 manual inquiries with previous employers are also required to cover the preceding three years.
The Clearinghouse will only record violations from January 6, 2020 onward. It will not record employer tests that are not Federal DOT tests. Right now the Clearinghouse is limited to FMCSA and not other DOT agencies.
Drivers will need to log into the Clearinghouse to:
Electronically give consent for prospective and current employers to check for their violations in the database. Not providing consent will prevent the driver from performing any safety-sensitive work.
View their records and make corrections to demographic data
Start the return to work process by identifying the Substance Abuse Professional who will be performing their assessment after a violation.
To do any of these things, drivers must register with the Clearinghouse.
Sign up to get updates at clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/home/subscribe
All DOT companies and self-employed drivers will be required to establish an online account for the Clearinghouse. Individual drivers that are not self-employed may register for an account but are not required to do so. Owner/operators can choose to use a third-party administrator to act as their employer and all companies can use a third-party administrator to manage their Clearinghouse information input.
Companies can begin to register for the Clearinghouse in October 2019 and can pull information and queries from the Clearinghouse beginning on January 6, 2020. After January 6, employers will be required to query the system for violations that would prohibit a driver or prospective driver from performing safety-sensitive functions.
In the interim of the three-year look back, you will be required to query the clearinghouse and also do the current three-year employment DOT drug and alcohol verification process. You must also complete queries during pre-hires. You are allowed 30 days to be in compliance after a hire. All employees must be queried annually.
If you have any additional questions about the Clearinghouse or what changes need to be made to employer policies, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our knowledgeable consultants at TAP: 510-562-3600.