Part of drug/alcohol database rule could be delayed; bulk of rule still slated to take effect in January

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Random carriers are being selected by FMCSA to participate in the agency’s annual Drug and Alcohol Information Survey.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed to delay the provision in the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule that requires states to query the database before completing certain CDL transactions.

The proposal would delay the compliance date for states from Jan. 6, 2020, until at least Jan. 6, 2023, says FMCSA. However, the Jan. 6, 2020 compliance date would still remain in place for all other requirements of the Clearinghouse rule, including the requirement fleets query the database for all new hires, as well as once a year for all existing drivers.

The Clearinghouse rule requires states to query the database before issuing, renewing, transferring or upgrading a CDL. FMCSA wants to extend that compliance date so it can work with states on what they are supposed to do with the information from the Clearinghouse.

The agency says it received questions and concerns from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, which represents state driver’s license agencies. Concerns included what FMCSA intends states to do with the information from the Clearinghouse, what information states would receive from a request about an individual CDL holder or applicant and more. Delaying the compliance date for states will allow FMCSA to resolve AAMVA’s concerns, the agency says.

FMCSA adds that it will later publish a separate proposed rule that will specifically address the concerns raised by AAMVA. The so-called “Clearinghouse II Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” which is expected to be published by March 1, 2020, will ask for input from states about the most efficient ways of electronically transmitting information from the Clearinghouse to the states.

The extra time given by extending the compliance date, as proposed, is also necessary for FMCSA to create the IT interface between states and the Clearinghouse, the agency notes. FMCSA also notes that the Jan. 6, 2023, date is effectively a placeholder until the “Clearinghouse II NPRM” is published. It will set the actual compliance date for states. The agency says it doesn’t anticipate the compliance date for states to be sooner than Jan. 6, 2023.

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FMCSA is accepting public comments here through Oct. 7.