CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Mar 21, 2019

In just over nine months, the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is scheduled to go into effect. Signed into law in 2016, the Clearinghouse will serve as a central database where drivers’ drug and alcohol violations are stored.

Last week the FMCSA issued an update on the status of the Clearinghouse, confirming that it’s scheduled to go into effect on January 6, 2020. On that date, all FMCSA-regulated employers, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs) and other agents will be required to report information on drivers’ drug and alcohol testing violations. This information will be housed in the Clearinghouse database, where it will be accessible to all DOT-regulated employers and state licensing agencies. Employers will be required to check the Clearinghouse before hiring a new driver – as well as annually for the duration of their employment. State licensing agencies will be required to check the Clearinghouse prior to issuing, renewing, transferring or upgrading a Commercial Driver’s License.

Once a non-negative result has been added to the Clearinghouse, it will stay there for the next five years, or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process (whichever is later).

What Information Will be Available?

 The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse will contain all CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations, including:

  • A positive drug test result
  • Reporting to duty for a safety-sensitive function with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.04
  • Reporting to duty for a safety-sensitive function while under the influence of any drug that is prohibited under Part 40 of the regulations (unless prescribed by a doctor)
  • Refusing to submit to a required drug or alcohol test
  • Alcohol use during, or within four hours, of performing a safety-sensitive function
  • Alcohol use within eight hours of a post-accident alcohol test

The Impact

For employers, the Clearinghouse will provide greater transparency into a driver’s drug and alcohol use while driving a commercial motor vehicle. A driver working for multiple carriers may get a drug or alcohol violation at one company, but unless they disclose the information to their other employers, they’ll have no way good way of knowing that the violation occurred. Once the Clearinghouse goes into effect, however, that will no longer be the case.

For drivers, it means that any violation they receive will be recorded and visible to current and future employers – something that (as we discussed above) isn’t always the case now. Because drivers can query the database themselves, they’ll also be able to see what information is currently available about them in the Clearinghouse – as well as select a Substance Abuse Professional if they need one.

Starting this fall, users will be able to create an account within the Clearinghouse so that they’ll be ready to access it in January 2020.

Source: Foley Services blog – 3/12/19 – Lindsey Bergeron