8,000 violations reported since FMCSA Clearinghouse start up

Since the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has gone into effect on January 6, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has reported detecting and identifying approximately 8,000 substance abuse violations.

The Clearinghouse, a database containing information regarding commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol violations, currently has more than 650,000 registrants. Although the Clearinghouse experienced slow loading times and glitches, including displays of error messages, according to the FMCSA, the database is still able to perform its main objectives. So far, the database only contains violations that occurred on or after Jan. 6, 2020. Therefore, if a driver’s violation occurred prior to Jan. 6, and was in the return-to-duty process during implementation of the Clearinghouse, it will not be entered into the database.  

The database includes records of drug and alcohol violations from random tests, as well as pre-employment tests, post-crash tests, reasonable suspicion tests, and refusals to submit to a test. In addition, Clearinghouse use is authorized by law enforcement officials, carriers and third-party administrators, medical review officers, and licensing agencies to check for commercial driver license holders’ violations. Moreover, drivers registered with the Clearinghouse can examine their own records.

In his interview with Transport Topics, Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations, said, “The Clearinghouse is doing what it’s intended to do… Beyond that, I think the numbers also shed light on how many drivers may have fallen under the radar in the past. Kudos to the agency for putting this in place.” Moreover, he added that the Clearinghouse database is intended to prevent drivers with such violations from changing jobs and getting hired with new carriers who are not aware of their positive test results.

“We’ve seen encouraging results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but there’s still work to do to ensure we identify more drivers who should not be behind the wheel.  The clearinghouse is a positive step, and the Agency continues to work closely with industry, law enforcement, and our state partners to ensure its implementation is effective,” FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen stated in the official statement released by administration.  

Currently, registration with the Clearinghouse is free and commercial drivers are not required to immediately register in the database. However, they will need to register to respond to the employer’s request for consent prior before a pre-employment query or other full query can be carried out. Moreover, employers are required to register during the first year of implementation to be able to conduct the obligatory annual query on all their employed drivers.

The mandatory compliance of state driver license agencies has been delayed until January, 2023. However, state agencies also have the option to query the Clearinghouse on a voluntary basis.

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