The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a final rule on December 2, 2016 establishing a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse database for commercial motor vehicle drivers. This new database will contain information pertaining to violations of the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing regulations for holders of commercial driver’s licenses. Although the rule takes effect on January 4, 2017, the implementation date for FMCSA-regulated employers is January 6, 2020.

The Clearinghouse rule requires FMCSA-regulated employers, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, consortia/third party administrators, and other service agents to report to the Clearinghouse information related to violations of DOT’s drug and alcohol regulations by current and prospective employees.

The Clearinghouse will provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle based on violations of DOT drug and alcohol regulations and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before operating a commercial motor vehicle on public roads. Specifically, information maintained in the Clearinghouse will enable employers to identify drivers who commit a drug or alcohol program violation while working for one employer, but who fail to subsequently inform another employer (as required by current regulations). Records of drug and alcohol program violations will remain in the Clearinghouse for five years, or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process, whichever is later.

Among other things, the Clearinghouse will require FMCSA-regulated employers to do the following:

  • Employers will be required to query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ DOT drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle on public roads;
  • Employers will be required to annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ;
  • Employers will be required to amend their DOT drug and alcohol testing policies to state that certain DOT drug and alcohol violations must be collected and reported to the Clearinghouse;
  • Employers will be required to report certain DOT drug and alcohol program violations to the Clearinghouse within three business days of receipt of the information, including:
    • A verified positive, adulterated or substituted drug test result;
    • An alcohol confirmation test result with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater;
    • A refusal to test;
    • An employer’s report of actual knowledge of the following:
      • On duty alcohol use;
      • Pre-duty alcohol use;
      • Alcohol use following an accident; and
      • Controlled substance use.
    • A substance abuse professional’s report of the successful completion of the return-to-duty process;
    • A negative return-to-duty test; and
    • An employer’s report of completion of follow-up testing.

FMCSA-regulated employers will be required to register with the Clearinghouse before accessing or reporting information in the Clearinghouse.