Final Rule: Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Clearinghouse image

The FMCSA and DOT published the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule on December 5, 2016. The final rule was mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). It seeks to improve safety by identifying CMV drivers who have committed drug and alcohol violations that render them ineligible to operate a CMV.

Purpose of Clearinghouse Rule.

According to the final rule, the purpose of the Clearinghouse is to maintain records of all drug and alcohol program violations in a central repository. The Clearinghouse will also require employers query the system to determine whether current and prospective employees have incurred a drug or alcohol violation that would prohibit them from performing safety-sensitive functions covered by the FMCSA and DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations.

This will provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before resuming safety-sensitive functions.

What is a Safety-Sensitive Function?

According to a publication by J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc., safety-sensitive function means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time he or she is relieved from work and all responsibilities for performing work.

Safety-sensitive functions include:

  • All time at an employer or shipper plant, terminal, facility, or other property, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by the employer.
  • All time inspecting equipment as required by Sec. 392.7 and Sec. 392.8 or otherwise inspecting, servicing, or conditioning any commercial motor vehicle at any time.
  • All time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation.
  • All time, other than driving time, in or upon any commercial motor vehicle except time resting in a sleeper berth.
  • All time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle; supervising or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a commercial motor vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate the commercial motor vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded.
  • All time repairing, obtaining assistance, or remaining in attendance upon a disabled commercial motor vehicle.

Major Provisions of Clearinghouse Rule.

Information maintained in the Clearinghouse will ensure that drivers who commit a drug or alcohol violation while working for another employer, or who attempt to find work with another employer, do not perform safety-sensitive functions until completing the return-to-duty process.

The Clearinghouse thus addresses the situation in which drivers can conceal their drug and alcohol violations merely by moving on to the next job or the next jurisdiction. As explained below, drug and alcohol violation records maintained in the Clearinghouse will “follow” the driver regardless of how many times he or she changes employers, seeks employment or applies for a CDL in a different State. The Clearinghouse will be administered and maintained in strict compliance with applicable Federal security standards. The Agency will comply with the consent requirements of the Privacy Act prior to releasing any driver’s Clearinghouse record to an employer.

Employers and medical review officers (MROs), or their designated representatives, are required to 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. In addition, Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) are required to report information about drivers undergoing the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process. Employers must search the Clearinghouse for information during the pre-employment process for prospective employees and at least once a year for current employees to determine whether anyone has incurred a drug or alcohol violation with a different employer that would prohibit him or her from performing safety-sensitive functions.

The Rule will go into effect January 4, 2017, and will have a compliance date of January 6, 2020.

To find out if you’re subject to drug and alcohol testing regulations, click here.

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