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February 26, 2014
DOT proposes drug test clearinghouse for commercial drivers

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to make it easier to find out if a driver has been prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle as a result of drug and alcohol testing.

The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all national commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders. The agency says the idea would help improve roadway safety by putting important information about driver restrictions in a single federal repository.

Noting that safety is FMCSA’s highest priority, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained that the proposal “will help ensure dangerous drivers stay off the road, while encouraging the employment of the many safe drivers who follow our drug and alcohol requirements.”

The proposed rule would require employers to conduct preemployment searches of the clearinghouse data for all new CDL drivers and annual searches on current drivers.

What driver drug testing information would be posted?

Under the proposal, FMCSA-regulated truck and bus companies, medical review offices, substance abuse professionals, and others would be required to record information about a driver who:

  • Fails a drug /alcohol test,
  • Refuses to submit to a drug/alcohol test, or
  • Successfully completes a substance abuse program and is legally required to return to duty.

Private, third party DOT drug and alcohol testing laboratories would also be required to report summary information annually.

FMCSA says that the truck or bus company could still employ drivers who refuse to provide the information. But they could not occupy so-called safety-sensitive positions such as operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Under federal law, truck and bus companies that employ CDL drivers must conduct a random drug and alcohol testing program. Carriers are required to randomly test 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50 percent of them for drugs each year.

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