FMCSA Update: FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

FMCSA Update: FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) launched in January. The clearinghouse was established by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) and stores information related to violations of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) controlled substances (drug) and alcohol testing program for holders of CDLs.  The clearinghouse will also document when a driver who has been found to be in violation completes the required return-to-duty process.

What Does FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Do?

The clearinghouse is a way to reveal when commercial drivers have violated drug and alcohol laws. Knowing the violations are visible through the clearinghouse is designed to keep drivers honest about their driving records and prevent them from hopping from one trucking company to the next due to bad driving incidents.

When a motor carrier or driver signs up for the clearinghouse, a U.S. DOT number is used rather than an Employee Identification Number (EIN). Employers and service agents must enter the following information into the clearinghouse as of January 6, 2020:

  • Each employee’s DOT drug and violations that fall under Part 382 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
  • Employers must also annually query the clearinghouse for required information for driver hiring and annual requirements.
  • Verification of a CDL driver’s completed steps in the DOT return-to-duty process.

Documentation of the violations begins January 6, 2020. No violation, even one that may disqualify a driver, is entered into the clearinghouse before that date.

Who Is Required To Register For FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse?

As of January 6, 2020, those required to register for and use the clearinghouse include:

  • Commercial drivers (most)
  • Commercial driver employers
  • Consortia/third-party administrators used by carriers
  • Medical review officers
  • Substance abuse professionals

A three-year delay is being reviewed for state driver licensing agencies. Everyone else is expected to use the clearinghouse.

What Data Is Submitted To FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse?

Motor carriers are required to submit violations of the DOT Part 382 drug-testing regulations as well as refusals to take drug and alcohol tests. In addition, “actual knowledge” violations, negative return-to-duty test results, and the completion of any follow-up programs, plans, or testing.

Employers have three days to submit the report to the clearinghouse after obtaining the information. Only DOT drug and alcohol tests may be added to the clearinghouse. The results of an employer’s independent test – like hair testing – may not be submitted. Records of drug and alcohol program violations will remain in the Clearinghouse for five years, or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process, whichever is later.

The clearinghouse is designed to identify those drivers who are not permitted to operate a commercial vehicle based on “DOT drug and alcohol program violations and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before operating a CMV on public roads,” according to FMCSA. The information also helps avoid a driver who may be released from one employer due to drug or alcohol test results from gaining employment with another trucking company without making them aware of the violation.