The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced February 12, 2014 a proposed rule to establish a federal Clearinghouse of drug and alcohol test result information for holders of commercial drivers’ licenses.  The primary purpose of the Clearinghouse is to assist FMCSA-regulated employers in screening applicants during the hiring process.  Under current law, prospective employers are required to obtain information about the applicant’s drug and alcohol test history directly from the applicant as well as the applicant’s former employers, to the extent that the applicant discloses them.  The clearinghouse was mandated by the Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century Act, signed into law in July 2012.

The proposed rule would impose a number of requirements on FMCSA-regulated motor carrier employers, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, consortia/third party administrators and laboratories supporting U.S. Department of Transportation testing programs, such as:

  1. FMCSA-regulated motor carrier employers:  Employers may not hire drivers without first conducting a search of the Clearinghouse for drug and alcohol violations.  After hire, employers must conduct annual searches of drivers’ drug and alcohol test result histories using the Clearinghouse.  In addition, employers must report to the Clearinghouse drivers’ positive, adulterated and substituted drug test results, positive alcohol test results, refusals to test, negative return-to-duty tests, reports of completion of follow-up testing, SAP reports and traffic citations for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Employers also must modify their written substance abuse policies to notify drivers that such information will be reported to the Clearinghouse.
  2. Drivers:  Holders of commercial drivers’ licenses must notify, in writing, all of his or her employers if he or she violates DOT’s or FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing regulations.
  3. Medical Review Officers:  MROs must report to the Clearinghouse within one business day all verified positive, adulterated, or substituted drug test results and refusals to test that require a determination by the MRO.
  4. Substance Abuse Professionals:  SAPs must report to the Clearinghouse information about drivers who begin and complete the return-to-duty process (required by DOT regulations when a driver violates certain drug or alcohol testing regulations).
  5.  Laboratories:  Laboratories supporting DOT drug testing programs will be required to submit an annual, aggregate statistical summary of test results for each motor carrier for which the laboratory performs DOT required testing services.
  6. Consortia/Third Party Administrators:  C/TPAs acting on behalf of an employer who employs himself/herself must report to the Clearinghouse positive alcohol test results, negative return-to-duty tests, refusals to test, and reports that drivers have successfully completed all follow-up tests.

The proposed rule also contains provisions addressing who may access the Clearinghouse and the conditions under which the Clearinghouse may be accessed; a dispute resolution procedure to remedy administrative errors in a driver’s Clearinghouse record; fees to be collected by FMCSA from users of the Clearinghouse; and, proposed civil and criminal penalties for violations of Clearinghouse regulations.

Those who wish to submit comments on the proposed rule must do so within 60 days of the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register.