What is the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
On Dec. 5, 2016, the FMCSA issued a final rule that established a National Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that gives employers, the FMCSA, state driver licensing agencies and law enforcement personnel real-time access to important information about a CDL holder’s drug and alcohol program violations.
Effective Jan. 6, 2020, motor carriers must use the Clearinghouse to check a current employee’s status at least once per year, review violations and ensure drivers are eligible to operate a CMV.* While the Clearinghouse does not alter existing drug and alcohol testing requirements, it will likely have a significant impact on internal processes and the way motor carriers onboard new drivers. In addition, there are very specific steps motor carriers need to follow in order to comply with the final rule, meet reporting requirements, avoid violating privacy laws and protect themselves from substantial penalties. This guide is designed to help motor carriers of all sizes better understand their Clearinghouse compliance burden. It includes specifics about the Clearinghouse process and ways employers can meet the legal standards set by the FMCSA.
Overview and Applicability of the Clearinghouse
Again, the Clearinghouse is an online database established by the FMCSA. It gives key stakeholders—motor carriers, CDL drivers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals (SAPs), consortium/third-party administrators (sometimes referred to as service agents) and state driver licensing agencies—the ability to search a CDL holder’s drug and alcohol violations. This, in turn, helps carriers and other parties identify drivers who are prohibited from operating CMVs due to drug and alcohol violations and refusals to test.
Major Benefits of the Clearinghouse
- Centralizes the testing process for CDL holders who operate CMV’s.
- Assists the FMCSA in determining employer compliance with testing, investigation and reporting requirements.
- Helps employers and other parties identify ineligible drivers by allowing stakeholders to see if CMV drivers of interest have violated federal drug and alcohol program requirements.
- Ensure that drivers who commit drug and alcohol program violations complete the necessary steps before getting back on the road or performing any other safety-sensitive function.
Under the final rule, motor carriers and other employers of CMV drivers must use the Clearinghouse to ensure that current and prospective employees do not have any unresolved drug and alcohol violations that affect their driving eligibility. Employers will also be required to report information about positive drug test results, alcohol test results greater than a 0.04 blood alcohol content, refusals to test and other non-test violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations. Stakeholders must register in order to access the Clearinghouse database. The timeline below outlines other key dates:
Registering for the Clearinghouse
Again, employers, drivers, medical review officers, SAPs and service agents must register in order to access the Clearinghouse information. To register, stakeholders will need a login.gov account.
Use the applicable links below to complete the registration process:
- If you have a login.gov account and want to begin the registration process, click here.
- If you don’t have a login.gov account and wish to create one, click here.
Information Contained Within the Clearinghouse Database
The Clearinghouse contains information about those covered by the FMCSA’s drug and alcohol program. In general, the program applies to all drivers who operate CMVs subject to the CDL requirements and perform safety-sensitive functions. As such, the Clearinghouse affects the majority of full-time, part-time, intermittent, backup and international drivers. It also contains information on drivers with commercial learner’s permits (CLPs).
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