FMCSA Announces Plans for a National Drug and Alcohol Clearing House

In an effort to improve roadway safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)  announced on Wednesday, February 12, 2014, their proposed rule to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all national commercial drivers’ license (CDL) holders. This clearing house will make it easier to know if a truck or bus driver has been prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle for failing to comply with federal drug and alcohol regulations (including mandatory testing). This proposal was directed by Congress as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated in his announcement that safety is the highest priority of the FMCSA.  He further declared that it is the belief of the FMCSA that this proposal will help keep dangerous drivers off the road while “encouraging the employment of the many safe drivers who follow our drug and alcohol requirements.”

Although Federal regulations require employers to conduct mandatory pre-employment screening of every CDL drivers’ qualifications based upon their driving records, there has not been a single federal repository that records positive drug and alcohol tests by CDL holders that employers could search to ensure that a driver is able to perform safety-sensitive duties.  The FMCSA’s proposed rule would create this repository and require employers to conduct pre-employment searches for all new CDL drivers as well as annual searches on current drivers.

The proposed rule would mean that FMCSA-regulated truck and bus companies, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, and private, third party USDOT drug and alcohol testing laboratories would be required to record information about a driver who:

  • Fails a drug and/or alcohol test;
  • Refuses to submit to a drug and/or alcohol test
  • Successfully completes a substance abuse program and is legally qualified to return to duty.

Private, third-party USDOT drug and alcohol testing laboratories would also be required to report annual summary information. This information would help identify companies that have not established a testing program.

Before being entered into the database, each CDL holder would need to sign a consent form.  Any driver who refuses to sign a consent form and provide the necessary information could still be employed by the company, but not in a safety-sensitive position.

For a copy of the Federal Register announcement, see:

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