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October 10, 2019 12:15 PM, EDT

Employers, Drivers Urged to Register for Drug, Alcohol Clearinghouse

FMCSA's drug and alcohol Clearinghouse. A technician tests a sample. (DrugTestingTV via YouTube)

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SAN DIEGO — Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials are encouraging motor carriers to register now on the agency’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database, aimed at ending job-hopping by drivers who fail their drug and alcohol test.

“It’s a database that is only going to include drug and alcohol violations,” Barbara Baker, an FMCSA technical expert, told executives attending an Oct. 7 session at American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition. “It’s not going to include crashes, inspections, and will not include other agencies such as the FAA or pipelines.”

The Clearinghouse’s objective is to stop commercial vehicle drivers from failing a drug test for one employer and moving on to another that may not know about the failed test.

“We want to stop those drivers from being able to do that,” Baker said. “We want to make sure they get whatever treatment they need to actually get cleaned up, get totally rehabilitated.”

The Clearinghouse will give employers, FMCSA, state driver licensing agencies and state law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver license and commercial learner’s permit holders’ drug-and-alcohol program violations.

When the Clearinghouse goes live Jan. 6, employers will be required to list drivers who have failed or refused to take U.S. Department of Transportation drug tests, and the results for drivers required to complete a return-to-duty program and clean drug test.

A loophole has been ongoing since the agency began testing for drugs in 1995, said Abigail Potter, ATA manager of safety and occupational health policy, told executives.

“ATA has been advocating to close this loophole since 1999,” she said.

FMCSA said employers, drivers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals and third-party administrators, must register to access information in the Clearinghouse.

The site will contain only violations that occur on or after Jan. 6. Due to an FMCSA IT glitch, state licensing agency mandatory compliance with certain requirements will be delayed until Jan. 6, 2023.

FMCSA said employers must use the Clearinghouse to:

  • Report drug and alcohol violations
  • Conduct a full query as part of each pre-employment driver investigation process
  • Conduct limited queries at least annually for every driver they employ
  • Request electronic consent from the driver for a full query
  • Record the negative return-to-duty test results and the date of successful completion of a follow-up testing plan for any driver they employ with unresolved drug-and-alcohol program violations.

Although drivers are not required to register for the Clearinghouse, they will need to be registered to provide electronic consent if a prospective or current employer needs to conduct a full query of the driver’s record. A driver also must be registered to electronically view the information in his or her own Clearinghouse record.

Employers will be charged a fee to conduct limited and full queries, but no fees will be assessed for registration or other Clearinghouse activities, according to FMCSA.

Owner-operators also are subject to the requirements pertaining to employers as well as those pertaining to drivers. However, the Clearinghouse final rule requires an employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver must designate a third-party administrator to comply with the employer’s clearinghouse reporting requirements.

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