Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Roadside Checks

As January 2021 fast approaches I wanted to take this time to remind those that employ CDL drivers about their obligations to utilize the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse. Effect last January, all motor carriers that employ CDL drivers -including single truck owner operators- have been required to report all drug testing results to the clearinghouse as well as perform pre-employment and annual queries of the clearinghouse records.

I strongly urge you to come into compliance with the drug and alcohol testing regulations as soon as possible if you are not already compliant. Violations of these rules are one of the few violations that will result in a company’s operating authority being suspended for the first violation which means you will effectively be forced out of business is caught using CDL drivers without a drug and alcohol testing program in place.

With the deployment of the clearinghouse comes a requirement to perform an annual query of the database for each of your currently employed CDL drivers. This is intended to help employers find out if a current driver, who may not have been randomly selected for a drug test all year, had another test at a different employer than came back positive. This most often happens when a driver is seeking new employment and fails a pre-employment test elsewhere. Prior to the clearinghouse their current employer would be none the wiser to the positive test and would continue allowing them to drive.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has announced plans to check the clearinghouse records of motor carriers and/or drivers during roadside inspections to see if there are any drug or alcohol violations reported, and if so, has the driver completed the return to duty requirements. If the driver has not they will be placed out of service and fined. Besides the obvious inconvenience of recovering a truck and load from the side of the road this out of service order will result in the FMCSA investigating the motor carrier’s drug testing compliance.

Should it be discovered that the employing motor carrier had not conducted at least one query of the driver’s clearinghouse record within the previous twelve months the carrier could face fines and penalties up to the suspension of their operating authority for a single offense. This roadside reported data will be used as the basis to trigger investigations and audits to find the carriers that are not in compliance with drug testing regulations.

Carriers have until January 5th, 2021 to have conducted at least one annual query of the clearinghouse on all currently employed CDL drivers, owners included if they drive even occasionally, and must have queries all new hires before allowing them to drive a CDL required vehicle. If you are not already in compliance with this regulation please take the time to sign up and begin queries immediately.

Drivers have an obligation under this regulation as well. CDL holders that are looking for new employment or have a positive result on their record that will require a full query of their record instead of the simpler limited annual query must create their own account login to grant access to their employer to obtain their full record. I strongly suggest all CDL holders create a login just to check their own record periodically for incorrect information that may have been reported as much of the test results are reported automatically by automated computer systems.

Even states have an obligation under this rule. Beginning in 2022 state driver license agencies will need to run a query on a CDL holder or learner permit applicant to see if they have any drug or alcohol testing violations that would prohibit them from renewing or obtaining a CDL.

Disclaimer:  Any information or suggestions that are provided on this website are intended to lend technical knowledge and support to our members.  Laws, regulations and best practices change, and the observations and suggestions made today may not apply to laws, regulations or best practices as they may be in the future.  Any recommendations made by Independent Auto Transporters Alliance staff are offered in strictly an advisory capacity and are not to be construed as legal advice. Recipients seeking legal advice should consult with legal counsel.  Recipients seeking accounting advice should consult with an account. Independent Auto Transporters Alliance (IATA) PO BOX 119 East Syracuse, NY 13057