DOT FMCSA regulated employers will have new responsibilities for the FMCSA drug & alcohol testing program beginning January 6, 2020. Known as the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – this new program affects hundreds of thousands of employers and millions of drivers. The program requires the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to provide a secure online database for storage of information about driver violations of the DOT FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Program.
Here are the top five employer requirements:
- Queries of new drivers
- Annual queries of all existing drivers
- Reporting alcohol test positives, employer-determined refusals to test and actual knowledge, as defined in Part § 382.107
- Reporting negative return to duty tests and completion of follow up testing programs
- Updating policies and education programs to notify drivers of what information will be reported to the Clearinghouse
Queries of new drivers
Currently, employers use paper forms to accomplish the previous employer checks to see if a driver has had drug or alcohol testing violations with no successful completion of the return to duty process. This process has several pitfalls. Starting January 6, 2020 employers will be required to query the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to see if there are any driver violations. If there are violations the employer will need to verify the driver has completed the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) return to duty process. In some cases, the hiring employer might have to inherit the ongoing follow-up testing process.
Important to note that the paper process of previous employer checks will need to be in place for 3 additional years once the Clearinghouse takes effect on January 6, 2020. For the three years through January 6, 2023, employers will be required to conduct both electronic queries in the Clearinghouse and manual inquiries with previous employers to meet the three-year timeframe for pre-employment driver checks as required per current DOT and FMCSA regulations.
Annual queries of all existing drivers
In every 365-day period or 12-month period (annually), employers will be required to query all existing drivers that are employed. This may be a limited query. The purpose of the limited query is to determine if any of the drivers have had a violation at another employer during that annual period. If the limited query shows information in the Clearinghouse on a driver, a full query must then be performed within 24 hours. An uploaded file containing information on multiple drivers can be submitted for the annual queries. More information on this and costs of annual queries are pending from FMCSA as of August 2019.
Reporting alcohol test positives, employer-determined refusals to test and actual knowledge, as defined in Part § 382.107
Employers will be required to report violations of alcohol tests at 0.04 level or above and employer-determined refusals to test (drugs or alcohol). For drug test positive results and refusals to test as determined by the medical review officer (MRO); the requirement is for the MRO to report these violations.
Employers have two serious responsibilities when they have actual knowledge of an employee using drugs or alcohol at work.
- Remove the driver from performing safety-sensitive functions and provide a list of SAP’s available for the return to duty process. The employer must document the actual knowledge and keep it on file for at least 5 years.
- Report the event with documentation to the Clearinghouse Database.
Reporting negative return to duty tests and completion of follow-up testing programs
For drivers that have a violation and complete the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) return to duty process, the employer conducting the return to duty (RTD) test must report the negative result to the Clearinghouse. The employer must also report to the Clearinghouse database once the driver successfully completes the follow-up testing that gets prescribed by the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). The date of successful completion of required follow up testing is required.
Updating policies and education programs to notify drivers of what information will be reported to the Clearinghouse
The current version of 49 CFR Part 382 [382.601(12)] updated as of May 9, 2019; requires that employers provide information to employees regarding what information will be reported to the Clearinghouse. Employers should update their drug & alcohol testing policies as well as add this information to the employee education previously distributed to employees regarding alcohol misuse and controlled substance use. All 5 of the above employer responsibilities in the new Clearinghouse can be handled for the employer by clearinghouseservices.com. Membership services are available for owner-operators, smaller trucking companies, and larger companies. Now is the time to prepare for your Clearinghouse responsibilities, check out our membership programs currently discounted through 12/31/2019.