On Dec. 5, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule that aims to improve roadway safety by establishing a National Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse.
Under the final rule, motor carriers and other employers of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers must use the Clearinghouse to ensure that current and prospective employees do not have any unresolved drug and alcohol violations that render them ineligible to operate a CMV. Employers will also be required to report information about positive drug test results, alcohol test results greater than 0.04 blood alcohol content, refusals to test and other non-test violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations.
These requirements take effect on Jan. 6, 2020, the date that the Clearinghouse is scheduled to become operational. Employers, CMV drivers
- Will allow motor carriers and other employers to identify drivers who are ineligible to operate a CMV.
- Will contain information about violations by employees who are subject to drug and alcohol testing under FMCSA regulations.
- Employers must use the database to ensure current and prospective employees do not have unresolved violations.
- Jan. 6, 2020—Employers must begin using the Clearinghouse and must also make manual inquiries with former employers.
- Jan. 6, 2023—Employers will no longer be required to request data from a driver’s previous FMCSA-regulated employers.
What information will the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse contain?
The Clearinghouse will contain records of violations of drug and alcohol prohibitions in 49 CFR part 382, subpart B, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals. When a driver with a drug and alcohol program violation completes the required Return-to-Duty (RTD) process, this information will also be recorded in the Clearinghouse.
Who is authorized to use the Clearinghouse?
To access the Clearinghouse (once it is operational), a user must request access from the FMCSA by registering. Authorized users will include:
- Motor carriers and other employers with drivers operating CMVs that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP);
- CDL/CLP drivers;
- Consortium/third-party administrators;
- Medical review officers;
- Substance abuse professionals;
- State driver licensing agencies; and
- Federal and state enforcement personnel
Will a prospective employee’s drug and alcohol violation history with Department of Transportation (DOT) modes other than the FMCSA be available in the Clearinghouse?
No. The Clearinghouse will contain only drug and alcohol program violation information for employees subject to the testing requirements under the FMCSA regulations in 49 CFR part 382. Employers must continue to request information from previous employers if an employee was subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing required by a DOT modal administration other than FMCSA (as required by §391.23(e)(4)(B)).
May employers report the results of non-DOT drug or alcohol tests to the Clearinghouse?
No. Only results of DOT drug tests, alcohol tests or test refusals may be reported to the Clearinghouse. While employers may conduct drug and alcohol testing that is outside the scope of the DOT testing requirements, positive test results or refusals for such non-DOT testing may not be reported to the Clearinghouse.
What actions will drivers be able to take in the Clearinghouse?
Drivers will need to log into the Clearinghouse in order to electronically consent to requests from prospective and current employers that need to access full details about any drug and alcohol program violations as part of an employment-related background check. This is the only valid method for an employee to respond to this type of employer consent request, and failure to provide timely consent may result in a driver being prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions for that employer.
Drivers may log in to the Clearinghouse to view their individual driver record at any time. Also, if a driver chooses to engage a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), he or she must select the SAP through the Clearinghouse to initiate the RTD process.
How are employers and Consortium/Third-Party Administrators required to use the Clearinghouse?
The Clearinghouse offers employers a centralized location to report drug and alcohol program violations and to check whether a current or prospective employee is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a CMV, due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation—that is, a violation for which the employee has not completed the RTD process. Employers must conduct this test, or query, as part of any pre-employment screening and at least annually after an employee is hired.
Employers may also use the Clearinghouse to designate a consortium/third-party administrator, which is a required step for any employer that employs him- or herself as a driver.
How are Medical Review Officers (MROs) and Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) required to use the Clearinghouse?
MROs must use the Clearinghouse to report verified positive drug test results and any driver refusals to take a drug test.
SAPs must use the Clearinghouse to report on the RTD status of drivers who are working to resolve any open drug and alcohol program violations. These reports include the date of completion of the initial assessment and the date the driver becomes eligible for RTD testing.
How will State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) use the Clearinghouse?
As of Jan. 6, 2020, SDLAs will be able to query the Clearinghouse prior to completing licensing transactions.
How will driver data be protected in the Clearinghouse?
The Clearinghouse will meet all relevant federal security standards, and the FMCSA will verify the effectiveness of the security protections on a regular basis.
Driver information will not be available to the public. Only authorized users will be able to register and access the Clearinghouse for designated purposes. The Clearinghouse will require authentication (username/password) to access records.
Drivers registered in the Clearinghouse will be able to access their Clearinghouse records at any time, and at no cost to them. Drivers will only be able to access their own information, not information about other drivers.
The FMCSA will only share detailed drug and alcohol violation information with prospective or current employers when an employer has requested and received specific consent from the driver. Drivers will be able to see the information that would be released to an employer before consenting to the release.
Driver information will be shared only with the FMCSA and other enforcement agencies as required to enforce drug and alcohol use testing regulations.
Does the final rule change any of the existing drug and alcohol program requirements in part 40?
No, the final rule does not change any existing requirements in the US DOT-wide procedures for transportation workplace drug and alcohol testing.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration