Have Your Say on FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Regs

ARLINGTON, VA — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking comments on its proposed clearinghouse for drug and alcohol test results until April 21. It will post a final rule after it has reviewed the comments and made adjustments if necessary.

The clearinghouse, which has been on the safety wish-list for 15 years, is designed to prevent commercial drivers in the states from hiding drug or alcohol violations and ensure that U.S. carriers are meeting their responsibility to test for substance abuse.

At first glance it may seem that the proposed rule only applies to U.S. drivers and carriers, but actually, it applies to all CDL drivers who operate commercial vehicles subject to CDL requirements or Canadian or Mexican equivalent on U.S. public roads.

Who’s affected

• Canadian and other non-U.S. drivers operating in the U.S. must be in compliance with the new rule and may also be subject to State laws, such as probable cause testing by police officers;
• Canadian and other non-U.S. drivers who work for a U.S.-based employer must fully comply with this rule;
• All full-time, part-time, intermittent, backup and international drivers who permanently live in the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia.

If the clearinghouse passes, it will set up a system in which everyone associated with the federal drug and alcohol testing program will have to report test results, refusals to take a test and return-to-duty results.

Carriers will also have to report their drivers’ traffic citations for driving under the influence.

And laboratories that provide drug-testing services will have to report summary information on their tests every year.

All of this will go into the clearinghouse, a searchable database. Carriers will be required to look at the data, with the driver’s permission, before they hire a driver. As is currently the case, the rule will require carriers that contract with owner-operators to treat those drivers as employees when it comes to reporting to and querying the database.

The purpose of the rule is to strengthen the current system. The agency claims that currently, drivers can continue to operate trucks after violating the drug and alcohol regulations without completing the required return-to-duty process by not reporting positive tests to new employers.

What’s tested

DOT drug tests require lab testing for:

• Marijuana
• Cocaine
• Opiates – opium and codeine derivatives such as morphine and heroin
• Amphetamines and methamphetamines (meth for short) – stimulant drugs such as Ritalin
• Phencyclidine – PCP

Public comments can be made via:

• Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov
• Fax: 1-202-493-2251;
• Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001;
• Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

All comments must use the docket number FMCSA-2010-0031 or RIN 2126-AB18. 

Have your say

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