Starting January 6, 2020, motor carriers subject to federal drug and alcohol testing regulations must begin using the new FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse is a secure federal database that will give employers, licensing agencies, and other authorized users real-time information about DOT drug and alcohol violations by commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders. The clearinghouse will contain records of violations of drug and alcohol prohibitions, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals.
Employers must conduct an annual limited check, called a limited query, of all currently employed CDL drivers, which will show whether there is any drug and/or alcohol violation information within the clearinghouse. Drivers must sign a written consent form that will allow their employer to obtain the limited query. It can be signed electronically. For a limited query, employers may obtain a multi-year general consent from the driver. For a full check, called a full query, the driver must provide specific consent to the employer prior to each review. This consent must be provided electronically within the clearinghouse. Employers must conduct a full check of the clearinghouse before hiring any new CDL driver, or if a limited query indicates that there is information about the driver in the clearinghouse.
Motor carriers can register for the clearinghouse at clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov. These new requirements do not change any of the underlying DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations, but compliance with the clearinghouse rules will be part of DOT safety audits of carriers. Motor carriers subject to these rules should amend their driver policies before January 6, obtain necessary consents, and review the new requirements with their CDL drivers.