Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse data nets nearly 8,000 positives

February 21, 2020

Land Line Staff

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Since the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse went into effect on Jan. 6, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says it has collected nearly 8,000 commercial drivers with positive substance abuse tests.

The Clearinghouse has more than 650,000 registrants, FMCSA reported in a news release issued Feb. 21.

FMCSA is unable to breakdown the data report beyond the positive result. It’s unknown how many of the positive tests were from pre-employment screenings that prevented individuals from entering the industry or were current drivers either testing positive or refusing to take the test for some reason, according to an agency spokesman.

The Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association regrets the lack of context for the figures in the news release.

According to the OOIDA:

“FMCSA should provide more context if they’re going to publicize results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  While they’ve reported 8,000 positive tests for prohibited substances, there’s no indication how many of those are from active drivers, refusals or pre-employment screenings.  We also need to consider that none of these results – or perhaps any of these results – suggest drivers were operating a truck while impaired.  Hopefully, FMCSA will be more mindful of our concerns, or at least provide additional context, should the agency release future results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.”

 

The Clearinghouse is meant to identify drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing requirements and are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle. The information helps employers avoid hiring those drivers until they have received required evaluation and treatment allowing them to resume driving commercial vehicles.

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Those required to register for the clearinghouse include:

  • Employers of commercial driver’s license and commercial learner’s permit holders, or their designated service agents, and medical review officers who report drug and alcohol program violations that occurred on or after Jan. 6.
  • Employers or their designated service agents who conduct required queries about whether prospective or current employees have drug and alcohol program violations in their Clearinghouse records. Employers must purchase a query plan before conducting queries in the Clearinghouse. Query plans must be purchased from the FMCSA clearinghouse website only.
  • Drivers who respond to employer consent requests or would like to view their Clearinghouse record when applying for a job.
  • Substance abuse professionals who report on the completion of driver initial assessments and driver eligibility for return-to-duty testing for violations committed on or after Jan. 6.

There is no cost for registration. Commercial drivers are not required to immediately register for the Clearinghouse, but they will need to register to respond to an employer’s request for consent prior to a pre-employment query or other full query being conducted. In addition, employers must be registered during the first year of implementation to ensure they are able to conduct the required annual query on all employed drivers.

FMCSA’s Clearinghouse website has resources, including user brochures and instructional aids with step-by-step registration instructions for all users

The Clearinghouse is meant to be a secure online database helping FMCSA, employers of CDL drivers, state driver licensing agencies, and law enforcement officials to identify CDL drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements.

Clearinghouse questions

To help inform drivers, OOIDA’s CMCI Drug Consortium representatives Whitney Bloom and Rachel Aycock took part in a Facebook Live video to answer drivers’ questions about the Clearinghouse.

OOIDA also posted a tutorial video that takes drivers and motor carriers step-by-step through the registration process.

The Association’s CMCI department cannot register drivers in the Clearinghouse. Each authorized user must obtain their own login credentials and use their credentials to access the Clearinghouse.

OOIDA can, however answer questions and help OOIDA members go through the registration process.

A stumbling start

One day into the implementation date of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse program, the agency announced that it is attempting to correct “connectivity issues” with the Clearinghouse website.

Also, although drivers have been required to register, states are not required to participate. States compliance date was pushed to 2023 to give them time to develop necessary information technology platforms.

FMCSA’s Clearinghouse website can be found here.

 

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