TruckRight Insight

Deadline Has Arrived for FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Queries

Time is now up for motor carriers and owner-operators under their own authority to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Introduced last year, the Clearinghouse contains records of violations of FMCSA's drug and alcohol testing program, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals. When a driver completes the Return-to-Duty process and follow-up testing plan, this will also be logged into the Clearinghouse.

The secure online database will give employers, FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations, improving highway safety overall.

According to a Clearinghouse fact sheet, employers are required to report drug and alcohol violations and check that no current or prospective employee is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions. This includes operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle due to a drug and alcohol program violation for which a driver has not completed a Return-to-Duty process.

It's important to note the Clearinghouse final rule requires that employers conduct queries as part of any pre-employment driver investigation, and at least annually for every CDL driver currently employed.

CDL drivers can view their own records, provide consent to current or prospective employers to access details about any drug or alcohol program violations, and select a Substance Abuse Professional if needed.

Meanwhile, Medical Review Officers must report verified positive drug test results and any test refusals. More information on how substance abuse professionals, third-party administrators and state driver licensing agencies are required to use the Clearinghouse can be found here.

TruckRight clients are seeing real value in the TruckRight Professional Services team conducting Clearinghouse queries on their behalf as it continues TruckRight’s mandate to simplify and streamline the application and hiring processes.

Thousands Yet to Register

While the Clearinghouse implementation date was January 6, 2020, it seems many have failed to comply with the mandatory reporting.

In fact, according to data from the first 10 months of its existence, thousands of fleets and owner-operators still need to register with the database, or they'll be subject to non-compliance violations.

If you have failed to obtain a full query on a driver hired this year, do it now, says Sean Garney, VP of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting. According to Garney, non-compliance is "not an option" because enforcement will be easy throughout 2021. Any fleet or owner-operator who fails to meet the critical deadline could face civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $2,500 per offence.

If you still need to register with the Clearinghouse, click here to begin the process online. To learn more about the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, please click here.

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HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO RISK?

The true cost of an accident can be staggering. Besides direct costs, indirect costs like poor publicity, lost clients and lost productivity can take a toll. The average cost for a truck accident is $148,279, not including litigation. It would take an additional revenue of $7,413,950 to pay the accident costs, assuming an average profit margin of 2%. A study of over one million lines of data on truck violations discovered that over 28,000 trucking companies, representing over 200,000 trucks, operated with safety violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association’s (FMSCA) settlement for non-compliance was $36,262,097 in 2014 with an average fine of over $7,000 per case.