Impacts of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule

January 3, 2017 2

On December 2, 2016, the FMCSA released its final rule on the creation of a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse will become operational on January 6, 2020. Drivers, carriers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, and state licensing agencies must comply with new reporting requirements by this date. Below is a summary of the rule and changes that will affect drivers, employers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, and state licensing agencies.

What The Rule Does

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule establishes a national database for logging:

  • All instances of failed DOT drug test results
  • Alcohol test results greater than 0.04
  • Refusals to submit to DOT drug tests
  • Other non-test violations of FMCSA drug and alcohol regulations

The purpose of the rule is to prevent drivers from hiding previous drug and alcohol violations by changing jobs or obtaining a CDL in another state. The rule also applies to drivers and carriers that participate in cross-border trucking in Canada and Mexico.

What The Rule Means for Drivers

Drivers with failed test results will have to complete a formal return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process before they can return to driving or participate in other safety-sensitive functions. Record of the failed test results will remain visible in the Clearinghouse for five (5) years, or until the return-to-duty rehabilitation process is complete.

What The Rule Means for Employers

According to the Clearinghouse rule, employers and medical review officers (MROs), or their designated representatives, are required to:

  1. Report information about positive drug test results, alcohol test results greater than 0.04 blood alcohol content, refusals to test and other non-test violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations;
  2. Query the clearinghouse during the pre-employment process for prospective employees and then annually for current drivers to determine if they have a drug or alcohol violation that would prohibit them from driving;
  3. Prohibit any employee or prospective employee from driving or participating in any safety-sensitive functions until the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process is completed by the employee.

Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) are required to report information about drivers undergoing the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.

What The Rule Means for State Licensing Agencies

State licensing agencies will be required to query the Clearinghouse each time a CDL is issued, transferred, renewed or upgraded.

Click here to view the entire Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule.

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