FMCSA Releases CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the publication of the much anticipated Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse in the Federal Register. Under the Final Rule, the FMCSA amends the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to establish a database or clearinghouse under the Agency’s administration that will contain information about violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program for the holders of CDLs. The rule was mandated within MAP-21 by Congress, and will improve roadway safety by identifying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who have committed drug and alcohol violations that render them ineligible to operate a CMV.

The National Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule goes into effect on January 4, 2017, with a compliance date of January 2020.

Once the clearinghouse is established, motor carrier employers will be required to query the system for information concerning current or prospective employees who have unresolved violations of the federal drug and alcohol testing regulations that prohibit them from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). It also requires employers and medical review officers to report drug and alcohol testing program violations.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule’s annual net benefits are an estimated $42 million, with crash reductions resulting from annual and pre-employment queries by FMCSA-regulated motor carriers.

The final rule requires motor carriers, medical review officers, third-party administrators, and substance abuse professionals to report information about drivers who:

·         Test positive for drugs or alcohol;

·         Refuse drug and alcohol testing; and

·         Undergo the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.