Understanding FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

By introducing the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) Clearinghouse, DOT-5 Panel testing has become mandatory for all commercial motor vehicle drivers in the United States. The main objective of the Clearinghouse is to create a safer work environment for drivers who are on the road, while ensuring that they are not influenced by drugs or alcohol. This blog post will help you understand who needs to utilize the Clearinghouse and why it is essential for them to adhere to the regulations.

The FMCSA Clearinghouse is a database designed for employers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, and state driver licensing agencies to have access to real-time information on drug and alcohol violations of commercial drivers. Any motor carrier operating in the United States must use this database to ensure they hire drivers who have not violated the drug and alcohol regulations.

Commercial drivers holding CDLs (Commercial Driver’s License) must comply with the new DOT drug screen regulations and be registered in the Clearinghouse. Any driver who has a previous violation or seeking new employment must register in order to to electronically give consent or mange Return to Duty Process.  All employers that hire CDL drivers must also register with the Clearinghouse. This is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that their drivers are registered. Any records of substance abuse and violations from the past three years must be uploaded into the Clearinghouse by employers to comply with regulations.

However, owner-operators with CDL licenses can register themselves on the Clearinghouse if they run their private company. The owner-operators’ drug and alcohol records are  recorded by their Consortium Third Party Administrator (CTPA) employers since they  maybe hired by carriers carrying their own load. In case the owner-operators have test violations, this can result in sanctions, including license suspension or revocation.

Clearinghouse FMCSA rules have created a strict guideline for all CDL drivers, and all associated parties must follow the regulations. Any driver involved  cited for an alcohol violation while driving a commercial motor vehicle, fail or refuse a drug and alcohol test must be reported to the Clearinghouse. In addition, drivers with known drug and alcohol use during safety sensitive duties must be reported as well.  Drivers unable to meet the new FMCSA regulations will not be considered safe to drive commercial vehicles, or have the necessary qualifications.

The DOT-5 Panel, included in the Clearinghouse FMCSA testing, includes a screen for cannabinoids, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), amphetamines, and opiates. Drivers with a positive test result need to undergo Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) evaluation and treatment. The driver must also complete a return-to-duty process and follow-up testing, which includes a negative drug and alcohol test.

It’s essential for the transportation industry to understand the importance of the FMCSA Clearinghouse and who is obligated to use it. Adherence to regulations and guidelines creates a safer work environment for drivers and everyone they come in contact with while on the road. Employers must understand the impact positive test results can have on drivers and their businesses, so it’s necessary to ensure they comply with Clearinghouse FMCSA regulations. It’s also crucial that owner-operators take the initiative to register themselves since Clearinghouse FMCSA rules affect their license and business. As an HR or owner-operator, it’s always essential to be aware of updates on regulations because they help ensure workers’ and drivers’ safety. 

If you need assistance with the FMCSA Clearinghouse, our knowledgeable Support Staff can assist you with our FMCSA Clearinghouse Membership.  Workplace Screening Intelligence has programs for companies of any size.  Call our knowledgeable Support Team today at 844-573-8378 or Support@workplacescreening.com