Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Updates
Posted by Cliff J. on October 28, 2019 in Trucker Focus

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is establishing The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) highway bill of 2012.  Motor carrier registration begins in the fall of 2019 with full compliance effective on January 6, 2020.


The Clearinghouse rule requires FMCSA regulated employers, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs), and other service agents to report to the Clearinghouse information related to violations of the drug and alcohol regulations, CFR 382.701. 


The Clearinghouse will provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV 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. This Clearinghouse information will enable employers to identify drivers who commit a drug or alcohol program violation while working for one employer, but who fail to subsequently inform their new employer. 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.


So, what does this mean for you the motor carrier or driver?  Your pre-employment and annual review requirements will change.  Starting on the January 6, 2020 compliance date, employers will have to add a step and conduct both electronic queries within the clearinghouse and manual inquiries with previous employers to cover the preceding three years of a CDL holder’s history. However, as of January 6, 2023, employers will only have to query the clearinghouse and will no longer be required to make manual inquiries.


Motor carriers will be required to query the Clearinghouse for current (limited) and prospective (full) employees' drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads and will also be required to annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ.  


To provide some guidance on these changes, we have outlined a few of the new requirements below.


The Clearinghouse requires the following:


From motor carriers:

  1. Register as a user in the Fall of 2019.  Be aware, FMCSA will be charging employers fee of approximately $1.25 for conducting queries in the Clearinghouse. Employers must purchase a query plan to ensure they can conduct queries.
  2. Selecting a C/TPA is required for an employer who employs him or herself as a driver or owner-operator.  A query plan must be purchased here also so their designated C/TPAs can conduct queries. C/TPAs cannot purchase queries on behalf of motor carriers.
  3. Obtain driver consent for all new drivers and additional driver consent for current drivers requiring full Clearinghouse queries. Employers are also required to query all current employees at least annually; 
    1. Limited query only on existing drivers with no refusals or positive test results
    2. Full query on new drivers, or a driver refusal or positive test result
  4. Report drug and alcohol program violations
  5. If applicable, report on Return To Duty (RTD) and ensure completion of follow-up testing
  6. New hire drivers, employers are also required, until January 6, 2023, to conduct both electronic queries in the Clearinghouse (annually) and manual, (one time at new hire) offline inquiries to previous employers for pre-employment driver investigations.


From truck drivers:

  1. Truck drivers do not have to create an account if they are not looking to switch jobs, but if they are, they must register in the clearinghouse.
  2. Though all drivers switching employers need to register, only failed tests or refusals will be entered into the clearinghouse database.
  3. Drivers must provide consent to limited query requests and, when required, full query requests.
  4. If required, drivers can register as a user in the Fall of 2019
  5. Drivers will select Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), only if they have a drug or alcohol violation in the Clearinghouse and enter the Return-To-Duty (RTD) process.


As the information on the Clearinghouse may change or as it is updated, it is important to be alert to any changes or approaching deadlines.  To help accomplish this, please visit the Clearinghouse itself for guidance at  https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Learn

Cliff J. is our Trucking guru
I bring over 30 years of trucking industry experience to Acuity. I worked my way up from driving to managing the safety operations of a transportation company, culminating in owning and managing my own regional trucking company. My main goal at Acuity is to help you, the motor carrier, the owner/operator and the driver better understand the insurance industry and help shape Acuity’s products and services to better meet your needs. I regularly provide ongoing trucking training to Acuity employees to help them understand the unique needs of those in the trucking/transportation industry. With over 30 years in the transportation sector, as both a company driver and as owner and manager of a trucking company, I have first-hand experience that helps me understand the challenges truckers’ face, and detailed knowledge of transportation regulations. My experience coupled with a background in insurance loss control can help answer and provide solutions to any issues that may arise.

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Posted By: Cliff J. on December 9, 2019 in Trucker Focus
From the days of buckboard wagons to the modern trucks operating today, the trucking industry has continued to play a vital role in our nation's economy. However, the job can be stressful and wear on drivers over time.