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September 5, 2019 2:15 PM, EDT

FMCSA Proposes 3-Year Delay for States to Comply With Clearinghouse Rule

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the date by which state driver licensing agencies must comply with certain Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule requirements.

The Clearinghouse is an online repository of data that carriers, state driver licensing agencies and law enforcement officials will be able to use to check a commercial driver license holder’s drug and alcohol violations.

According to a notice that was scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Sept. 6, the NPRM would delay by three years the compliance date for the requirement that states request information from the Clearinghouse before completing certain commercial driver license transactions. Under the proposal, the compliance date, due to begin Jan. 6, would be pushed to Jan. 6, 2023.

Drug and Alcohol clearinghouse logo

The proposal also would allow states the option to voluntarily query Clearinghouse information beginning on Jan. 6. They may do this by registering in the Clearinghouse as an authorized user and logging in to view a driver’s record.

According to the Federal Register document, the proposed delay is necessary to allow FMCSA time to complete its rulemaking to address state driver licensing agencies’ access to and use of driver-specific information from the Clearinghouse.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators asserted the final rule didn’t address various issues related to states’ role in the Clearinghouse, such as what states are expected to do with the information they receive from the Clearinghouse, what privacy and data controls would be in place for data transmission and how erroneous records would be corrected. FMCSA said it will address these concerns.

“The agency intends to publish a separate proposed rule, which will specifically address the issues raised by AAMVA,” the Federal Register document states. “Delaying the implementation of the query requirement would provide FMCSA additional time to resolve AAMVA’s concerns and ensure a seamless implementation of the states’ Clearinghouse-related requirements.”

FMCSA stated that it anticipates this follow-up NPRM will be published no later than March 1, 2020. The final rule resulting from this proposal will establish the date by which states will ultimately need to achieve compliance, although the agency does not anticipate this final compliance date will be sooner than Jan. 6, 2023.

FMCSA said it has concluded that the delay will not impact highway safety.

The original Jan. 6, 2020 compliance date will remain in place for all other requirements spelled out in the Clearinghouse rule. The rule requires drivers to register and consent to carriers checking their record for failed drug tests or refusals to take drug tests. Employers are required to check the Clearinghouse as part of pre-employment driver investigations and screen each of their currently employed CDL drivers at least once a year.

FMCSA is accepting public comment on the NPRM through Oct. 6.