It is hard enough hiring a new driver and making sure that everything is in line with the expansive list of Federal Regulations and your company hiring requirements, but it is just as important that your safety department understand the issues regarding what is necessary to access driver "consumer reports." Here, we will not address all of the issues presented by the Fair Credit Reporting, but if you are interested in a broader look, go to click here.

As we all know, a DOT drug test is often mandatory for transportation employees, across all modes of transportation. Typically a new hire is asked if they have been drug tested in the past, if they have ever failed a drug test, and given a form to sign stating that it is okay for this new employer to request all their test results from other employers. At first blush, this seems quite harmless and definitely makes it a little easier on the paperworkload (yes, that is a new word).

However, a closer look at the law governing DOT drug and alcohol testing is pretty clear that a "blanket release" is prohibited.[1] You must get the person's written consent to seek the information from other employers; this means you need "specific written consent." [2] The person must list all previous and current employers within the relevant time period. The language on the release must be a specific release authorizing your company to receive testing information from a specific or current employer about that specific employee. For example, the release document should not have multiple employers listed, it should have one employer for one employee at a specific point in time. This consent cannot be part of another DOT requirement like a motor vehicle check or criminal background check.

With the approach of the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, it is important to start examining your procedures and forms now. Remember, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be an annual process and, unless the FMCSA changes its regulations, the waiver/release form must be signed each year.

So now would be a great time to review your FCRA compliance. Is the release currently used employer specific? Do you use one release form for multiple DOT requirements? Are the signed release documents up to date? There is no time like the present to make changes to your processes.

Click here to view the Spring 2017 print edition of the Transportation Newsletter.