Employers of commercial motor vehicle drivers should be making final preparations to comply with a federal law set to take effect in January. The U.S. Department of Transportation is rolling out a Federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – a database to track commercial driver’s license holders who have tested positive for prohibited drug or alcohol use or who have refused to take a required test.
Currently, this information must be requested from previous employers through letters, emails or phone calls. The process can take time and produce inconsistent results.
Effective January 6, 2020, employers must begin populating the database and querying the Clearinghouse for information on new hire applicants. Only violations that occur after January 6, 2020, will be entered in the database. Employers will still be required to contact previous employers for violation information until the Clearinghouse has been in effect for three full years.
Records of drug and alcohol program violations will remain in the Clearinghouse for five years or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process, whichever is later.
The Clearinghouse is intended to improve highway safety by:
- Making it easier for employers to meet their pre-employment investigation and reporting obligations
- Making it more difficult for drivers to conceal their drug and alcohol program violations from current or prospective employers
- Providing roadside inspectors and other enforcement personnel with the means to ensure that drivers receive required evaluation and treatment before performing safety-sensitive functions, such as driving a commercial motor vehicle
- Making it easier for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to determine employer compliance with testing, investigation and reporting requirements.
So, what do employers need to do?
Authorities recommend that no later than the fourth quarter of 2019 employers:
- Sign up for the new database – registration is now open
- Sign up as a motor carrier to query the Clearinghouse
- Train appropriate employees about how to handle inquiries, driver authorization and record retention and what to do if a violation is discovered
Drivers also have rights under the program, so employers should discuss with drivers their rights and responsibilities. Drivers must give their written permission for a prospective employer to access their data.
For further information, please contact your local, professional independent insurance agent. Policyholders of The Cincinnati Insurance Company may request loss control services from a fleet specialist through their agent.
Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Neither The Cincinnati Insurance Company nor its affiliates or representatives offer legal advice. Consult with your attorney about your specific situation. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.