In the Federal Register Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is set to publish a final rule to establish a long-under-way database of positive commercial driver drug and alcohol test results. Carriers will be required to query the database once a year for currently-employed drivers, and for any prospective driver in the pre-employment process.
The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be under the Agency’s administration, in collaboration with a third party, and will contain information about violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program. The compliance date for the rule remains a little more than three years away — January 6, 2020.
The rule, mandated by Congress in the MAP-21 highway bill in 2012, will improve roadway safety, FMCSA believes, by preventing any driver’s ability to conceal “drug and alcohol violations merely by moving on to the next job or the next jurisdiction” without completing the return-to-duty process.
Current return-to-duty rules require employers to furnish a list of potential referrals to drivers for completion of a rehabilitation program with a Substance Abuse Professional meeting Department of Transportation guidelines. Drivers thus affected must complete the program and retest before returning to work with any employer.
The Clearinghouse database will reflect such completions, and records will follow every affected driver regardless of how many times he or she changes employers, seeks employment or applies for a CDL in a different state, FMCSA notes in its summary.
Employers and medical review officers, including testing consortiums utilized by many independent owner-operators, will be required to report information about positive drug test results, alcohol test results greater than 0.04 blood alcohol content, refusals to test and other non-test violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations to the database. As noted in prior reporting, independents using a testing consortium will be required to designate that consortium to report results to FMCSA on their behalf.
Substance Abuse Professionals working with drivers on return-to-duty rehabilitation, likewise, will be required to report information about the rehabilitation process to the database.
The rule requires employers to search the Clearinghouse database for information during the pre-employment process and at least once a year for current employees.
The Agency says it will comply with the consent requirements of the Privacy Act prior to releasing any driver’s record to an employer. FMCSA suggested in commentary published with the rule that subscription and/or transaction fees for those required to utilize the Clearinghouse database would be minimal. As suggested above, the agency plans to “contract with a third-party to operate and maintain the Clearinghouse.”