The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration drug and alcohol Clearinghouse opened for registration on Saturday, and the database will go live on January 6.

According to the FMCSA, “The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel real-time access to important information about CDL Driver drug and alcohol program violations.”

Those who must register include “employers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, and consortia/third-party administrators.”

Beginning January 6, the Clearinghouse will contain information on all drug and alcohol program violations by CDL drivers, including the following (taken from the government website, with minor edits):

  • Reporting for duty or remaining on duty for safety-sensitive functions with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater, or while using any drug specified in the regulations (Part 40) other than those prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.
  • Alcohol use while performing, or within four hours of performing, a safety-sensitive function.
  • Alcohol use within eight hours of a post-accident alcohol test.
  • Testing positive for specified drugs.
  • Refusing to submit to a required alcohol or drug test.
  • Actual notice by an employer of driver substance abuse.

Here are some tips for getting ready:

Encourage your CDL drivers to get help now if you are aware that they have a substance abuse problem.

Educate yourself and your staff. Here is a link to the regulations, which took effect January 4, 2017. You’re also welcome to listen to the recording of the free Clearinghouse webinar that we presented last month and download our free Clearinghouse questions and answers. You can learn from the FMCSA more about the various employer, driver and service agent reporting obligations. Another suggestion is to subscribe to receive Clearinghouse updates directly from the FMCSA.

Educate your CDL drivers and supervisors. Drivers who register will have access to their own Clearinghouse reports. For help in training, you can use this FMCSA Fact Sheet for drivers.

Select the persons responsible for entering Clearinghouse data and directing your compliance efforts. The Clearinghouse prohibits misuse of information in the database, and requires that reports be truthful and accurate. Criminal and civil penalties may apply in the event of violations. You may want to consider having your Clearinghouse staff sign an access confidentiality agreement.

If you haven’t already done so, select your Medical Review Officer, Consortia/Third-Party Administrator, and Substance Abuse Professional so that they can register.

When you register, purchase “Query Plan Bundles” directly from the Clearinghouse. C/TPAs cannot purchase queries themselves, but they can use the bundles purchased by the employer. The bundles can also be used by employers who conduct their own queries. More information is available from the FMCSA Query Fact Sheet.