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Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse: What Carriers and Drivers Need to Know

| Apr 29, 2020 | Firm News

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

On January 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will go LIVE. All Motor Carriers, and their vendors that assist in administering the Carrier’s federally mandated drug and alcohol testing programs, will be able to access the database to check a current driver’s or prospective driver’s history for past violations in one location. All Motor Carriers regulated by the FMCSA will be required to register in the database. Also, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), and Consortia/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs) that support motor Carriers’ drug and alcohol testing policies and programs will be required to register. All commercial drivers will eventually be required to register as well. Registration opened this week so all entities that are required to register can begin the process and get their accounts set up before the system goes live in January. There will be a flat rate for each inquiry. Carriers will be required to purchase credits for queries to be used by them or the other Registrants that are searching on their behalf. C/TPAs will not be able to purchase credits for the Carriers.

All Registrants will be required to report any violations discovered into the database so that Carriers will have one location that they can search to check a prospective driver’s history.

The system will allow a limited query to be run on a driver by a Carrier or C-TPA with a written authorization. This will show if a driver has any violations in the system, but will not show information on each violation.

A full inquiry will require the driver to register into the Clearinghouse database and provide consent in the system (a written consent given to the Carrier will not be accepted). This inquiry will show all available data about each violation.

Once the Clearinghouse system goes online, Carriers will be required to run a check in the database for (1) each new prospective driver (pre-hire) and (2) a periodic check of all drivers at least annually. For current drivers, a limited query can be run and will be sufficient, unless the report indicates the driver has a violation. In that event, the Carrier must run a full query for that driver within 24 hours, or the driver will be disqualified to operate a CMV.

For all prospective drivers starting January 6, 2020, the Carrier will be required to run a full query, which will require the driver to be registered in the system.

Because registration for Carriers and their C/TPAs is mandatory, Carriers and C/TPAs would be well served to register now and get their accounts set up and operational so they are ready when the system goes live.

While this will create new duties on Carriers and C/TPAs to run the queries at the pre-hire stage and annually, it consolidates all violation reporting for all states into one database and will streamline the process to verify a driver’s violation history.

For drivers, although registration is not “required,” it will be required if they change employers because the full query will be required for all new hires. Moreover, drivers will be required to register if they want to review what information is on their profile. Thus, drivers should strongly consider registering now, rather than waiting until an event occurs that requires them to register.

Overall, the Clearinghouse looks to be a new tool to allow better and more complete reporting of drug and alcohol violations and provide Carriers and C-TPAs more confidence that new-hires and existing drivers are in compliance with FMCSA drug and alcohol regulations. For more information about the Clearinghouse, or to register for an account, visit the FMCSA Clearinghouse website at: www.clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov

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