Get Ready for the Clearinghouse Database

Welcome to Clearinghouse Services, Inc!  We are happy to announce our company which has been formed to assist DOT regulated companies with the requirements of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.  The Clearinghouse final rule was published December 5, 2016, and required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to implement the Clearinghouse, a database to maintain information about drivers who have violated the DOT drug & alcohol testing rules.  The Clearinghouse Final rule becomes effective on January 6, 2020.

Why the Clearinghouse?  

It is all about safety.  It is not good for employers to hire drivers who have violated the DOT drug & alcohol testing rules and not completed the rehabilitation process.  These violations include positive drug tests, positive alcohol tests and refusals to test. Prior to the Clearinghouse employers used previous employer checks (paper forms) to request information from previous employers about a driver’s history of drug and alcohol testing violations.  There are several pitfalls with the process and many drivers with substance abuse issues may have slipped through the cracks and have continued to drive for new employers.

The Clearinghouse will be a real-time electronic database where employers and MRO’s will report on drivers that have tested positive on drug tests or alcohol tests or have refused required DOT testing.  These drivers are then required to be removed from their safety-sensitive positions and referred to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).

Truckers at a rest stop

How can a Driver Return to Duty?

The DOT drug & alcohol testing rules are not about punishment.  The program allows for drivers with violations to return to duty.  The return to duty process is as follows:

  • Employer provides to driver a list of Substance Abuse Professionals
  • Driver contacts a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
  • The SAP does an initial evaluation, prescribes treatment and or education and then has a follow-up evaluation
  • After the follow-up evaluation, the SAP provides a letter releasing the driver to return to duty
  • Going back to the original employer or a new employer the driver needs a Return to Duty test under direct observation and the outcome must be negative   
  • The SAP also requires a schedule of follow up tests with a minimum of six tests for the first year and potentially more up to 60 tests over 60 months.

In the Clearinghouse, Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) must report on the Return to Duty status of a driver including the date of completion of the initial assessment and the date the driver becomes eligible for Return to Duty testing.

The Clearinghouse and Safety

  • The program will make it easier for FMCSA officials to determine employer compliance regarding reporting DOT drug & alcohol testing violations.
  • Enforcement officers will be able to ensure drivers do not have violations that have not been corrected with the required evaluation and treatment.
  • State driver licensing agencies can check the Clearinghouse prior to finalizing licensing transactions.
  • This new program will help eliminate the problem of substance abusing drivers job-hopping and not disclosing the previous employers where they tested positive.
  • Overall it will become easier for employers to be compliant in their pre-employment checks and reporting obligations.

Clearinghouse Services, Inc will be offering memberships to employers so they can receive guidance and consultation regarding the Clearinghouse.  Memberships will include unlimited consultation, driver queries, required reporting of violations and required annual queries.  Get your membership prior to January 6, 2020, to save 50% on your first-year membership fee. Medical Review Officers (MRO) are required to report drug test positive results and refusals to test result to the Clearinghouse.  Many MRO’s may not want to do this and elect to get out of the MRO business. Our affiliated drug testing third-party administrator – National Drug Screening, Inc offers MRO services for employers and consortium drug testing services.  MRO services will include reporting to the Clearinghouse.