Drug And Alcohol Clearinghouse: 20 Things You Should Know

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is an electronic database containing the alcohol and drug violations of commercial vehicle drivers. It is set to go into effect on January 06, 2020 and will be a federal program that centralizes alcohol and drug violations by driver CDL numbers.

The rule requires, by law, that motor carriers, medical review officers, third party administrators, and substance abuse professionals to report all information about commercial vehicle drivers for the following:

1. Test positive for drugs or alcohol
2. Refuse drug and alcohol testing
3. Undergo the return to duty drug and alcohol rehab process.

History Of The Drug And Alcohol Clearinghouse?

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration) created the final rule that established a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse, or electronic database, for commercial vehicle drivers and bus drivers. The final rule was established in December 2017.

In 2012 United States Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to create a national database/clearinghouse that contains alcohol or drug violations. This is another step to ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers are safe and that the people (public) that they share the roads with are safe too.When

1. When Will It Be Implemented?

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is scheduled to be start on January 6, 2020. Something else you should know is that any violation that occurs before January 6, 2020 will not be included in the clearinghouse.

2. Will Violations That Occurred Before The Clearinghouse Rule Be Included?

No, violations that occur before the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse goes into effect (January 6, 2020) will not be included in the database. Only violations that occur after the database is active will be included in the database. For example, if you have an alcohol violation in 2017, 2018, 0r 2019 it will not be added to the database.

Keep in mind that you can still be fined, disciplined, or arrested for an alcohol violation but the violation will not go into the clearinghouse database.

3. What Kind Of Alcohol And Drug Violations Will Be Recorded?

-Anytime a commercial driver tests positive for a drug or alcohol violation it will be entered into the electronic database.

-If a driver refuses to take a drug or alcohol test it will be recorded into the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

-All other drug and alcohol violations that apply to anyone with a valid CDL will also be entered into the database.

4. Who Will Have Access to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse?

1. Employers: Employers will be required to access the clearinghouse to search for driver violations that would prohibit the driver or a potential driver that might prohibit him/her from driving a commercial vehicle.
2. State Driver Licensing Agencies: State licensing agencies will be required to search the database whenever a CDL driver renews, obtains, upgrades, or transfers his/her CDL.
3. NTSB: The NTSB will be able to access the database to find out information about a driver involved in a crash the NTSB is investigating.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will not be available to the general public.

5. How Long Will Information Be Available?

Any violation will be in the clearinghouse for 5 years from the date of the violation.

6. Can Drivers Access Their Own Information In The Clearinghouse?

Yes, drivers will be able to access their own information but the driver will need to register with the Clearinghouse in order to do so. I recommend you register and take a look at your personal information to make sure everything is correct.

7. Is The Information Subject To The Privacy Act?

Yes, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is subject to the Privacy Act. Also, drivers have the right to request that information that is not accurate be removed or corrected. I strongly suggest that you create an account and review your record so that everything is accurate. Remember, mistakes happen and you don’t want the wrong information to get you in trouble.

8. What If An Employer Reports Wrong Information To The Clearinghouse?

Employers will have to provide specific documentation to support the reporting of a violation. Employers that submit false information to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse can also be subject to criminal or civil penalties. This is good to know for drivers so that their employers are held to a high standard too when reporting violations.

9. Can A Driver Correct Information About Themselves?

Yes, there will be a process for drivers to request corrections on their record. Drivers will be able to challenge accuracy of information but not accuracy or validity of test results.

10. How Will A Driver Know When Information About Them Is Added?

Anytime information about a driver is added, altered, or removed the driver will be notified by mail or they can choose to receive notifications electronically. Again, this is a good thing for drivers so that you know what kind of information is being added about you.

11. How Will Driver Information Be Tracked?

Driver information will be tracked by CDL numbers and and the state that issued you the CDL. Drivers will not be tracked by their social security number.

12. What Are The Employer Responsibilities?

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is not just going to impact drivers, it will impact their employers too. Employers will be required to report violations of the DOT drug and alcohol testing program for their current drivers as well as prospective drivers.

The employer will also have to search the database to find out if any potential hire has any unresolved drug or alcohol violations that might prevent them from driving a commercial vehicle.

13. What Information Are Employers Required To Submit?

There is specific information that employers will have to submit to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The following is a list of them:

1. An alcohol test result with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.
2. A negative return-to-duty test result.
3. A driver’s refusal to submit to a DOT drug or alcohol test.
4. An “Actual knowledge” violation. Actual knowledge means an employer has knowledge that a driver has used alcohol or drugs based on the employer’s direction observation of the driver, information provided by a previous employer, a traffic citation for driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or an employee’s admission of use.
5. A report showing that the driver successfully completed all follow-up tests.

14. How Much Will A Query Cost?

There is not set price for how much it will cost for an employer to conduct preemployment and annual queries.

15. A Prospective Employer Must Conduct A Full Query

A full query requires the driver to give consent to release information in the clearinghouse to the company. A prospective employer cannot conduct a limited query when potentially hiring a new driver.

16. What Is A Limited Query?

A limited query allows the employer to see if there is any information about a driver in the clearinghouse but does not allow the employer to access any specific information in the record.

17. What If Limited Query Show There Is Information On A Driver?

If a limited query shows that information exists in the clearinghouse the employer is required to get the driver’s consent for a full query. After getting consent the employer must complete the full query within 24 hours.

Also, the FMCSA will verify the driver consented to the full query before releasing any information to the employer.

18. Can Employers Report Non-DOT Tests To The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse?

No, they can only submit results of DOT drug and alcohol tests. Any test that an employer does that is not a DOT test is not able to be added to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

What if a driver that has a violation in one state tries to apply for a CDL in another state? One of the primary purposes of the clearinghouse is to minimize drivers going to multiple states to get a CDL.

It will be a national database that will have the same information in it regardless of the state you are in. Whether you search from Indiana or California the same information will be in the Clearinghouse.

19. Are Canadian And Mexican Drivers Subject To The Clearinghouse?

Yes, all Canadian and Mexican employers or employees are required to comply with DOT and FMCSA drug and alcohol testing have to comply with the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

20. CDL Driver Alcohol Concentration

According to the Federal Regulations no driver is allowed to report for duty or remain on duty while having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.

Also, no employer is allowed to knowingly allow a driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.04 or greater to drive a commercial motor vehicle. You don’t need me to remind you that alcohol and driving a commercial vehicle is a recipe for disaster. Don’t do it. Keep yourself safe and take your driving career seriously by making good decisions. Source: Click here