Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Detects Nearly 8,000 Violations Since Jan. 6

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Nearly 8,000 substance abuse violations have been detected and identified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse since it went live Jan. 6, the agency announced Feb. 21.

The Clearinghouse, a database containing information on commercial driver license holders’ drug and alcohol violations, first went live last month but displayed error messages and experienced sluggish loading times. Although minor glitches remain on the website, users say it’s performing its primary objectives.

The Clearinghouse so far has more than 650,000 registrants, the agency said.

The drug and alcohol violations recorded in the database include pre-employment tests, random tests, reasonable suspicion tests, post-crash tests and refusals to submit to a test.

Carriers and their third-party administrators, state driver licensing agencies, law enforcement officials, medical review officers and substance abuse professionals are authorized to use the Clearinghouse to check for a CDL holder’s violations.

CDL drivers who register for the Clearinghouse also can check their own records.

The Clearinghouse ends a longtime loophole that allowed drivers with drug or alcohol test violations with one motor carrier to job-hop to another carrier who may not have knowledge of the driver’s previous positive test results, said Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations.

“The Clearinghouse is doing what it’s intended to do,” Horvath said. “Beyond that, I think the numbers also shed light on how many drivers may have fallen under the radar in the past. Kudos to the agency for putting this in place.”

The Clearinghouse contains only violations that occurred on or after Jan. 6, 2020. If a driver’s violation occurred prior to Jan. 6, and was in the return-to-duty process when the Clearinghouse was implemented, the violation and any related return-to-duty activity will not be entered into the Clearinghouse.

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“We’ve seen encouraging results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but there’s still work to do to ensure we identify more drivers who should not be behind the wheel,” FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen said in a statement. “The Clearinghouse is a positive step, and the agency continues to work closely with industry, law enforcement and our state partners to ensure its implementation is effective.”

The Clearinghouse rule, years in the making, requires drivers to register and consent to carriers checking their record for drug and alcohol violations. Employers are required to check the Clearinghouse as part of pre-employment driver investigations and screen each of their employed CDL drivers at least once a year.

The agency has extended the compliance date for the requirement established by the Clearinghouse final rule that states query the Clearinghouse before completing certain CDL transactions. The state driver license agencies’ mandatory compliance with this requirement has been delayed until Jan. 6, 2023. However, state agencies still have the option to voluntarily query the Clearinghouse.

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