The long-awaited Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is moving forward as planned with a mandatory compliance date of January 2020.
Employers will be able to check the database to see if a driver has had a previous positive or refusal test. Information on completion of the return-to-duty process with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) will also be included.
This is a positive step forward for the industry as the database will help improve safety by identifying commercial motor vehicle operators who have committed drug and alcohol violations and who have attempted to find work with another employer without performing the requirements of the SAP and return-to-duty testing process. This will prevent drivers from trying to conceal violations by simply moving on to the next job or state. With the new database, violation records will follow the driver no matter how many times they change employers or apply for a CMV license in a different state.
The FMCSA announced a final rule on December 2, 2016 to create a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial truck and bus drivers. A contract was recently award to the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center to begin work on the Clearinghouse to meet the January 2020 deadline. FMCSA may appoint another vendor to manage the Clearinghouse on the backend after the database has been created and tested.
What are the Clearinghouse Requirements?
- Employers and medical review officers must report positive drug and alcohol test results, refusals to test and other non-test violations. Each time information is added to, modified or removed from the Clearinghouse, FMCSA will notify the affected driver.
- Substance abuse professionals must report information about drivers participating in return-to-duty and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
- Employers will be required to query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a CMV on public roads
- In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a), a driver must grant consent before an employer can request access to the driver’s Clearinghouse record and before FMCSA can release the information. After registering with the Clearinghouse, a driver can review their information at no cost.
- Employers will be required to annually query the database for each driver they currently employ.
The Clearinghouse also has requirements for Owner-Operators – an employer who employs himself/herself as a driver is subject to the requirements related to employers as well as drivers. Part 382 regulations require that a one-person company owner/operator join a random drug and alcohol testing pool with at least one other person. Under the Clearinghouse final rule, an employer who employs himself/herself as a driver must also designate a third party administrator to comply with the Clearinghouse reporting requirements.
Once the final rule goes into effect, motor carriers will need to update their FMCSA policies and forms, implement internal reporting and confidentiality protocols, conduct training, and update their Service Agent contracts.
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