FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

FMCSA Clearinghouse 01

The information provided below is based off of the current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announcement as of April 2019 and is subject to change as the program further develops. As new information becomes available, DISA will add to this page.  Last Update 4/16/2019

On January 4, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a Clearinghouse final rule which requires mandatory use of the Clearinghouse for employers to report and collect information about driver drug and alcohol violations. Two years later, there’s still a lot of confusion around this industry-wide regulation. We’re answering the most common questions we’ve received about the Clearinghouse below!

What is the FMCSA Clearinghouse?

The FMCSA Clearinghouse will contain records of drug and alcohol violations per FMCSA regulations, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals. This will allow employers to identify drivers who are not legally permitted to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) due to drug and alcohol program violations. The database will provide real-time access and updates so that employers can make smarter decisions.

When does the FMCSA Clearinghouse go into effect?

The FMCSA has set a launch date for the Clearinghouse of January 5, 2020. Registration is scheduled to begin in fall 2019 which will allow users to create an account to access the Clearinghouse.

For the first three years, or until January 6, 2023, in addition to procuring the new FMCSA clearinghouse report, employers will be required to continue processing the manual verification requests with all former employers (in the previous three years) as they onboard new commercial drivers. Since the onboarding process will require two different types of queries, employers can anticipate an increase in the cost of hiring a new driver. After January 6, 2023, employers will only be required to use the Clearinghouse for identifying drivers with drug and alcohol program violations. It’s important for employers to keep a close eye on the requirements and projected dates as information is subject to change from the original projections and requirements made by the FMCSA.

“The FMCSA Clearinghouse will significantly change the way employers onboard new commercial drivers. It is always a good thing to have access to data that allows you to make smarter hiring decisions, and that is the case with the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Although some of this information is subject to change, it’s important that employers take note and prepare accordingly for when the new Clearinghouse regulations go into effect.”

– James Stanley, Sales Director of Transportation at DISA Global Solutions.

Who is required to follow FMCSA Clearinghouse rules?

Both employers of drivers and drivers themselves are required to follow FMCSA guidelines. Employers are required to report drug and alcohol violations and can check to see if current or prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a CMV.

CDL drivers can view their own record, provide consent to current or prospective employers to access details about any drug and alcohol program violations, and select a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) if needed. An employer who employs himself/herself as a driver must comply with FMCSA drug and alcohol requirements that apply to both employers and drivers.

In addition to owner/operators the following individuals will also be impacted:

Medical Review Officers (MRO) must report verified positive drug test results and test refusals.

Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP) must report their initial Return-To-Duty (RTD) assessment and eligibility status for RTD testing.

Consortium or Third-Party Administrators must, on behalf of an employer, report drug and alcohol program violations and perform driver queries as required.

State Driver Licensing Agencies are required to query the Clearinghouse prior to completing licensing transactions.

Why did the FMCSA create the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse will allow employers to see if a driver has had a previous positive or refusal test and also check the status on completion of RTD processes with a SAP. This has a significant positive impact on the transportation industry, as it helps improve safety by ensuring that no CMV operators who have committed drug and alcohol violations can attempt to work with another employer before completing RTD and SAP requirements. Drivers will not be able to hide violations as their records will be unveiled regardless if they change employers or apply for a CMV license in another state.

What are the Next Steps?

As of April 2019, the FMCSA has not yet designated a company to manage the Clearinghouse. Once a company is selected to manage the Clearinghouse, it will then need to define several requirements that vendors need to meet to order a report.

TPAs, like DISA, are waiting for these steps to complete so we can build the product and infrastructure around the Clearinghouse’s requirements for our customers. Once that’s complete, trucking owner/operators can begin talking with vendors to manage their FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements. Effective January 5, 2020, all transportation owner/operators are required to comply with Clearinghouse requirements.

Relevant Links:

FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

Federal Register – Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

U.S. Department of Transportation FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Fact Sheet

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About DISA Global Solutions

Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background check, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.

DISA Global Solutions aims to provide accurate and informative content for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. Always consult with a professional or legal expert.