October 22, 2019 9:30 AM, EDT

FMCSA Says Drug, Alcohol Clearinghouse Will Be Open to Other Agencies

Clearinghouse agency accessA technician works on a drug test. (Quest Diagnostics)

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced its plans to permit Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse records to be disclosed to agencies outside the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure compliance with drug testing regulations.

When the Clearinghouse goes into effect Jan. 6, employers will be required to list truck and bus drivers who have failed or refused to take DOT drug tests, and the results for drivers required to complete a return-to-duty program and clean drug test.

In addition to checking the Clearinghouse for all prospective new employees, motor carriers will be required to check for violations at least annually for all of its employed drivers. The database is aimed at mitigating job-hopping by drivers who fail their drug and alcohol tests.

Drug and Alcohol clearinghouse logo

The agency said the new system of records announcement is due to be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 22, and that it will accept comments on the announcement 30 days after publication.

FMCSA is encouraging employers to register for use of the Clearinghouse since it will be going live in less than three months.

In addition to employers, the Clearinghouse system will allow:

  • Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program partner agencies access to the database for use during investigations, roadside inspections and safety audits of motor carriers.
  • State driver licensing agencies to verify a driver’s qualification to operate a CMV prior to completing any licensing transactions, including issuance, renewal, transfer, or upgrade of any commercial learner’s permit or commercial driver license.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board access to the system when a driver is involved in a crash under investigation by NTSB.

“This routine use will strengthen the enforcement of the current prohibition against operating a commercial motor vehicle, or performing other safety-sensitive functions due to drug and alcohol program violations, as well as other drug and alcohol program requirements,” the pre-publication announcement said.

FMCSA said queries of the Clearinghouse fall into one of two categories — limited or full, and require a driver’s consent before any information can be released about the driver.

A limited query of the Clearinghouse will inform the employer or its designated third-party administrator whether violation-related information about the driver exists, but will not include detailed violation information, the announcement said.

To view such information contained in the Clearinghouse, the employer must perform a full query. A full query will include such information as a driver’s name, date of birth, contact information and eligibility status; information about the employer who ordered the test or reported a violation; test details, including the type of test, violation details, and test result and return-to-duty information.

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 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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