Employers of CDL drivers are required to conduct background investigations before hiring a driver. This process includes determining if the driver has violated the drug and alcohol regulations of any Department of Transportation (DOT) mode within the past three years (see 49 CFR 391.23(e)). Currently, this requires employers or their designated consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) to conduct both electronic queries in the Clearinghouse and manual inquiries with previous employers to meet the three-year time frame.
Beginning January 6, 2023, when three years of violation data is stored in the Clearinghouse, prospective employers must not conduct manual inquiries. In accordance with §§ 382.413(b) and 391.23(e)(4), beginning January 6, 2023, prospective employers must conduct a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse, as set forth in § 382.701(a), to comply with the inquiry requirement in § 391.23(e) as it pertains to FMCSA-regulated employers.
NOTE: The Clearinghouse contains only information about drivers employed by FMCSA-regulated employers. If a prospective employee was employed by an employer regulated by a DOT agency other than FMCSA (such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, etc.) during the three-year time frame, prospective employers will still be required to directly request drug and alcohol violation information from those DOT-regulated employers in accordance with 391.23(e)(4)(ii), since this information is not reported to the Clearinghouse.
Employers of CDL drivers must conduct a query in the Clearinghouse at least once a year for each CDL driver they employ (see § 382.701(b)). This annual query requirement applies on a rolling 12-month basis, which means that if you conducted your last annual queries in December 2021, it is time to conduct the next round of annual queries.
Employers must obtain general consent from CDL drivers they employ before conducting limited queries in the Clearinghouse to view these drivers’ information.
In 2012, Congress passed and President Obama signed the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” a transportation reauthorization bill referred to as “MAP-21.” That law directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a means of identifying and tracking commercial drivers who violate the agency’s drug and alcohol testing program, to ensure that drivers with a history of violating the drug and alcohol regulations are taken off the road until they demonstrate compliance with those rules. On January 6, 2020, nearly eight years later, an FMCSA database called the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) will launch. As of this date, employers that use commercial drivers must observe new reporting and query requirements adopted to implement this ambitious safety rule.
The Clearinghouse will enable employers to more easily identify drivers who commit a drug or alcohol program violation while working for one employer, but who fail to subsequently inform another employer. Records of drug and alcohol program violations will remain in the Clearinghouse for five years, or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process, whichever is later. Compliance with Clearinghouse reporting and query requirements are mandatory to achieve a compliant FMCSA drug and alcohol program.
The FMCSA is the federal agency within the Department of Transportation (DOT) that enforces drug and alcohol testing rules and regulations for employees who drive commercial trucks and buses, as well as vehicles that carry hazardous materials. These regulations apply to any driver who holds a commercial driver’s license, and set out drug and alcohol testing requirements in addition to general rules on drug and alcohol use.1 The regulations also provide detailed instructions on the steps Covered Drivers must complete if they violate those regulations and wish to resume performing safety-sensitive driving work for any employer. Covered Drivers who have committed drug and alcohol violations are ineligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle on public roads until they have completed a federally-mandated return-to-duty process.
Before the creation of the Clearinghouse, every FMCSA-regulated employer has been required to take proactive steps to verify the drug and alcohol testing record of any Covered Driver about to begin performing safety-sensitive functions (either as a new hire or via internal transfer), primarily by querying the driver’s prior employers. If the record showed that the Covered Driver previously violated a drug and alcohol testing regulation, the employer could not allow the driver to perform a safety-sensitive function until the employer confirmed that the driver successfully completed mandatory return-to-duty requirements.
This will surely help your company and at Labworks USA, it is more important than ever for us to manage your Clearinghouse responsibilities.
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