Only months remain before the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse deadline arrives.
The rule creating the clearinghouse was published in December 2016, giving motor carriers three years to prepare for implementation. Years have turned into months, and the time is running short for carriers to integrate the processes into their DOT drug and alcohol testing program.
Effective January 6, 2020, the rule requires employers and their service agents to populate the clearinghouse with:
- Their employees' DOT drug and alcohol violations under Part 382 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and
- Verification of a CDL driver's completed steps in the DOT return-to-duty process.
In addition, once the clearinghouse is launched, motor carriers must request queries on applicants and existing CDL drivers using the database. However, before the process can begin, motor carriers must take certain steps.
Key areas need to be addressed by motor carriers as they move toward the deadline. The following checklist may assist in preparation:
- Driver training: Prior to January 6, 2020, provide drivers with:
Information about the driver data that will be put into the clearinghouse, as listed in Section 382.601(b)(12).
The following best-practice training:
- An explanation of the inquiries performed by employers (Section 382.701);
- Driver procedures on signing up for access to the clearinghouse;
- Information on how drivers may obtain a copy of their clearinghouse records (Sections 382.707, 382.709);
- Procedures for correcting information in the database (Section 382.717);
- An awareness that state licensing authorities will have access to the database (Section 382.725); and
- Clarification on a driver's obligation to notify a current employer(s) (in writing) of DOT testing violations occurring under a different employer (Section 382.415).
- Administrative tasks: No later than fourth quarter 2019:
Train those involved in obtaining the DOT drug and alcohol background checks on the clearinghouse queries;
Set up a process for dual inquiries (safety performance history and clearinghouse) for CDL driver candidates;
Set up a tickler system for annual clearinghouse inquiries on existing CDL drivers;
Train responsible parties on data the motor carrier must provide the clearinghouse;
Sign up for motor carrier access to the clearinghouse; and
Train appropriate motor carrier personnel on handling of inquiries, including:
- Driver authorization,
- Record retention, and
- Actions taken when a violation is discovered.
- Service agents: No later than fourth quarter 2019:
Verify that the motor carrier's medical review officers, collection site(s), and substance abuse professionals understand their roles in the clearinghouse.
Contract with a third party (if applicable) to:
- Perform pre-employment and annual driver queries, and
- Provide information to the clearinghouse on behalf of the motor carrier.