The FMCSA has developed an information clearinghouse to better ensure that drivers cannot conceal drug and alcohol violations by moving on to the next job, perhaps in a different state. Violation records maintained in the clearinghouse will “follow” the driver. Employers, or prospective employers, will be required to “query” the clearinghouse.
This requirement applies to all drivers who hold a CDL and use it for your job or may be required to use it on the job. In short, it applies to anyone in your CDL drug and alcohol testing program.
Effective January 6, 2020, you are required to be registered and participating in the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. There are no exemptions for municipalities because you are required to comply under 40 CFR 382 and Part 40 of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Rules.
How this affects employers is as follows:
- You MUST, before hire, query the clearinghouse and send a manual letter to the previous employers for the past three years, asking for drug and alcohol violations. This must continue until January 6, 2023. (After January 6, 2023, you are only required to query the database; the letter will be no longer needed.)
- As an employer, you are required to enter data regarding drug and alcohol violations into the clearinghouse. This includes, but is not limited to, violation, and Substance Abuse Professional program completion.
- Once every 365 days, you are required to query the database to ensure no drug or alcohol violations have occurred. This becomes more of an issue if an employee works two CDL required jobs, but can also (theoretically) occur if a DWI occurs out-of-state and the driver fails to notify the DMV or you.
- There is a fee involved per query and it is not optional. Currently, the fee is set at $1.25/query. You are allowed to run a limited query, but if a violation occurs, you are required to get a full detailed query. You will not be charged a second time if the detailed query is required. (The system is now set up to run batch queries, so employers with a large number of DOT covered employees may find that helpful.)
- Drivers are required to register to give consent for the queries. If consent is refused, the driver must be removed from safety sensitive duties. There is a paper consent form on the FMCSA website for the limited query if you choose to use it. If a full detailed query is required, a second consent must be given.
- Data must be entered by the employer reporting a failed drug and alcohol test, reporting for duty with alcohol in system, etc., regardless if the CDL holder has given consent or registered for the system. If the driver has registered, they will receive an email or electronic communication; if they have not, the clearinghouse will send a letter to their mailing address as listed on their CDL.
- The system is now open for registration. Many have found the registration process problematic. We suggest you familiarize yourself with it early.
For more information or to register in the clearinghouse, go to: https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/, and there are FAQs listed on the site.