Time to register with FMCSA’s drug, alcohol clearinghouse

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

Come January, the Federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be up and running. In the works since 2016, this electronic database will track commercial truck drivers who have tested positive for prohibited drugs or alcohol.

It also will track those drivers who refused to take the required tests. Beyond just testing, drivers who are in violation of drug and alcohol policies will have to complete a return-to-duty process. This too will be captured in the Clearinghouse.

Drivers and motor carriers need to register to be included in the Clearinghouse, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently opened registration for the Clearinghouse. To create an online account, drivers, fleets, medical review officers and substance abuse professionals can go to the official website.

FMCSA will begin being collecting data on January 6, 2020, and that is when employers can begin checking the database during the hiring process. It is important to note that before a carrier can get information from the Clearinghouse, the driver must give consent. Until January 6, 2023 employers must continue to check prior employers for the information using the current verification of employment paper forms.

The Clearinghouse seems like a good tool to help identify drivers who job hop in order to avoid the substance abuse professional’s evaluation, treatment and follow up care mandated in the regulation for violating drug and alcohol testing.

Some drivers may be leery of the Clearinghouse and drag their feet when it comes to registering. Of course, failure to register could delay the hiring process for drivers, as fleets will be hesitant to and may be prevented from hiring someone without having access to this key information.

Third-party administrators and drug and alcohol consortiums are determining what services they can provide to their customers in order to help them navigate the process, but most say they are waiting to commit until the database is open and they can see what is actually required.

If you have not registered your company, you should plan on doing so. At the same time, encourage your drivers to register as well.

I am sure there will be a learning curve when it comes to the Clearinghouse, but once it is operational, it will be a good tool to help fleets ensure they are employing safe drivers.

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