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February 27, 2020
Nearly 8,000 violations flagged by FMCSA’s Clearinghouse

Nearly 8,000 positive substance abuse tests of commercial drivers have been identified since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule became effective January 6, according to the Agency.

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The FMCSA’s Clearinghouse is a central repository of records of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers’ drug and alcohol violations.

“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,” FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said in an Agency statement.

“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.”

The December 5, 2016, Clearinghouse rule became effective January 6, and employers must query the database when considering a CMV driver for employment. They also must annually request Clearinghouse records for all current employees.

Drivers who have not completed the return-to-duty requirements following a drug or alcohol violation may not be allowed to operate a CMV.

State driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) may request records from the Clearinghouse but are not required to comply with the Clearinghouse rule until January 6, 2023.

The Clearinghouse became operational October 1, 2019, and began accepting registrations from drivers, employers, service agents, and substance abuse professionals. The Clearinghouse now has more than 650,000 registrants, according to the FMCSA.

The following are required to register with the Clearinghouse:

  • Employers of commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders, or their designated service agents, and medical review officers (MROs) who report drug and alcohol program violations that occurred on or after January 6, 2020;
  • Drivers who would like to view their Clearinghouse record when applying for a job or must respond to employer consent requests; and
  • Substance abuse professionals who report drivers’ initial assessments following a positive drug or alcohol test result and drivers’ eligibility for return-to-duty testing for violations committed on or after January 6, 2020.

Employers must register with the Clearinghouse during the first year of implementation to ensure they are able to conduct the required annual query on all employed drivers. Owner/operators that employ only themselves in single-driver operations must designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) as a service agent to comply with the employer’s Clearinghouse requirements. There is no cost for registration; however, there is a fee for Clearinghouse queries.

Employers or their designated service agents who conduct required queries for information on whether prospective or current employees have drug and alcohol program violations in their Clearinghouse records must purchase a query plan before conducting queries of the Clearinghouse. Employers or their service agents can purchase query plans from the FMCSA’s Clearinghouse website.

While SDLAs may voluntarily request records from the Clearinghouse now that it is active, beginning January 6, 2023, states must query the Clearinghouse whenever a driver seeks a new, renewed, upgraded, or transferred CDL.

The Clearinghouse was established in an attempt to prevent drivers from concealing any drug or alcohol violations simply by moving to another job or another jurisdiction.

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