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Before Long, Trucking Companies Will Have to Check National Drug Clearinghouse

Monday, April 03, 2017By Richard Alexander

It is imperative that commercial truck and bus drivers not drive impaired. That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced a federal rule establishing a nationwide clearinghouse for drug and alcohol testing violations.

Federal law requires commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who perform safety-sensitive functions to undergo certain drug and alcohol testing. People who are subject to testing requirements are subject to testing before operating commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and after certain accidents, for example. They are also subject to random testing by their employers.

Previously, there was no central repository for this information. As a result, employees were sometimes able to hide drug and alcohol violations from their employers.

In 2012, Congress included a provision in a federal highways bill that required the federal Secretary of Transportation to establish a national clearinghouse for CDL drug and alcohol violation information.

In December, the FMCSA published a final rule describing how the database will work.

Under the new rule, employers of CDL drivers who perform safety-sensitive functions will have to meet these requirements:

  • searching the system for prospective new hires;
  • searching the system for drivers it currently employs at least once per year; and
  • reporting information about CDL holder violations to the clearinghouse within strict time frames.

The following information must be reported:

  • positive alcohol tests with a result of 0.04 or more;
  • refusals to test for drug or alcohol use;
  • negative return-to-duty tests; and
  • completion of all follow-up testing after a positive result.

Employers have only three business days to report any of these things under the new rule.

The new requirements are expected to help employers remove unsafe drivers from the road, thereby benefitting the general public. Violations will remain in the database the longer of five years or until the driver successfully completes a return-to-duty process.

In addition, state agencies that issue CDLs must check the clearinghouse when it issues a CDL or when a CDL is renewed, transferred to another state, or upgraded.

The rule will be implemented on January 6, 2020.

If you or a loved one was badly injured in a crash with a commercial motor vehicle, contact the personal injury lawyers at the Alexander Law Group, LLP or call 888.777.1776. All calls are free and confidential.

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