FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Identifies Nearly 8,000 Positive Substance Abuse Tests of Commercial Drivers

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On February 21, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released data gathered from its Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and the information showed that the Clearinghouse had detected and identified nearly 8,000 positive substance abuse tests of commercial drivers since it became operational on January 6, 2020, according to a news release from the FMCSA.

“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. 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,” FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen stated in the news release

The Clearinghouse provides FMCSA and employers with tools to identify drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements and are prohibited from operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). The goal of the Clearinghouse is to ensure drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before they resume driving.  Those required to register for the Clearinghouse include:

  • Employers of commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders, or their designated service agents, and medical review officers who report drug and alcohol program violations that occurred on or after January 6, 2020;
  • Employers or their designated service agents who conduct required queries which inform them whether prospective or current employees have drug and alcohol program violations in their Clearinghouse records.  Employers must purchase a query plan before conducting queries in the Clearinghouse – query plans must be purchased from the FMCSA Clearinghouse website only;
  • Drivers who respond to employer consent requests or would like to view their Clearinghouse record when applying for a job; and
  • Substance abuse professionals who report on the completion of driver initial assessments and driver eligibility for return-to-duty testing for violations committed on or after January 6, 2020.

Commercial drivers are not required to register for the Clearinghouse immediately but will need to register to respond to an employer’s request for consent prior to a pre-employment query or other full query being conducted. Employers must be registered during the first year of implementation to ensure they are able to conduct required annual queries on employed drivers. There is no cost for registration.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – which has more than 650,000 registrants as of February 2020 – is a secure online database that allows FMCSA, employers of CDL drivers, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and law enforcement officials to identify CDL drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements in real time, and thereby improve safety on our nation’s roads.

The Clearinghouse operated by the FMCSA – an administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of CMVs – contains important resources, including user brochures and instructional aids with step-by-step registration instructions for all users. To access these resources, users can visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov.

In July of 2012, President Barak Obama signed into law the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)” passed by Congress that included important provisions intended to help the FMCSA reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities by removing the highest risk drivers, vehicles, and carriers from roads. In October of 2019, the FMCSA opened registration for the Congressionally-mandated Clearinghouse.

Starting on January 6, 2020, employers with employees covered by DOT/FMCSA regulations must report certain drug and alcohol program violations and can conduct electronic queries in the Clearinghouse. Effective January 6, 2023, employers must query only the FMCSA Clearinghouse to satisfy the employer requirement to identify prospective drivers who have committed drug and alcohol program violations.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – provides transportation industry background screening services specializing in the trucking, automotive, and transportation industries to help them be confident about employee drivers they employ. To learn more, visit https://www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Industry-Specific-Solutions/Transportation/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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