Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse: Be ready for big changes

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The long-awaited Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse begin on January 4, 2020. The Clearinghouse will be an electronic database containing records of violations of the drug and alcohol prohibitions in subpart B of part 382 of the Regulations.

It will also mean major changes and new requirements for companies both at hiring and continuously thereafter. Trucking companies will have to check the data base as well as report information.

Canadian employers and employees currently required to comply with DOT and FMCSA drug and alcohol testing requirements must comply with the Clearinghouse requirements. You can get information and sign up for email alerts here:  https://bit.ly/2Q4fh2i

Pre-employment checks

Companies will have to check the Clearinghouse for all new hires to see if they have any D & A violations that prohibit them from performing safety-sensitive functions. This means that driver candidates must be registered with the Clearinghouse.

For the next three years, employers with have to check the Clearinghouse and request D & A history from prior employers. After it is in existence for three years, employers will only have to check the Clearinghouse for D & A violations for drivers subject to DOT testing.

However, employer D & A checks will be required if the prospective driver was not subject to DOT testing. Additionally, non-D & A pre-employment inquiries of Section 391.23 will still be required (MVR, safety performance history,…).

Annual inquiry

Employers will have to do an annual inquiry of the Clearinghouse as to its drivers. This means that all of your drivers will have to be registered with the Clearinghouse. The annual check may be a full or limited inquiry.

A full inquiry requires the driver’s specific consent to release the information in the Clearinghouse about that driver. A limited inquiry only requires a general driver consent which may be obtained for multiple years to satisfy the annual inquiry. A limited inquiry will only indicate if information exists in the Clearinghouse about the driver, but does not provide the specifics.

If the limited inquiry indicates information exists in the Clearinghouse about a driver, the employer must seek a full consent from the driver and conduct a full inquiry within 24

hours. Without this consent, a company may not permit a driver to drive a CMV or perform any other safety-sensitive functions.

Reporting requirements

Employers must report the following:

  • An alcohol confirmation test of 0.04 or greater;
  • Negative return-to-duty test;
  • Driver refusal to submit to a DOT drug or alcohol test;
  • An “Actual Knowledge” violation;
  • A report that the driver successfully competed all follow-up tests ordered by the SAP.

The employer must report a D & A violation within three business days after the employer received the information. Only DOT D & A tests may be submitted to the Clearinghouse.

Within two business days of making a determination or verification of a DOT approved drug test an MRO must report verified drug test results or refusal-to-test determination based upon the employee’s inability to provide a sufficient specimen for testing, or the adulteration or substitution of the specimen.

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Doug Marcello, a shareholder with the law firm of Saxton & Stump and chief legal officer of Bluewire, is a trucking defense attorney with a CDL. He had represented trucking clients across the country, having been specially admitted for cases in 35 states. Doug received the 2018 Leadership Award of the ATA Safety Council.

He has served on the advisory board of the American Trucking Research Institute. Doug is a member of numerous trucking organizations, including a board member of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association and member of the American Trucking Associations Safety Council as well as trucking law organizations including TIDA and Transportation Lawyers. He has written numerous articles concerning trucking safety and defense which can be found at www.cdl-law.com. You can also find his interviews and presentation on his YouTube channel and podcast, “TransportCenter”, on iTunes.

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