The Complete Guide to the FMCSA Clearinghouse Rule ​​​​​​​

If you work in the trucking industry or commercial motor vehicle sector, no doubt you have heard of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse. Slated to begin on January 6, 2020, the Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about CDL (commercial driver's license) driver drug and alcohol program violations, thereby enhancing safety on our Nation’s roadways.

On January 6th, 2020, the new FMCSA Clearinghouse went live. The main goal of the FMCSA's Clearinghouse was, and is, to save lives by reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles. To accomplish this mission of enhancing safety on our nation's thousands of miles of highways, CMV drivers and their employers are now required to register the driver’s alcohol and drug violations on a federal clearinghouse. 

Employers are not allowed to operate a CMV if the driver has not completed the return-to-duty requirements following a drug or an alcohol violation.

What Classifies as a Violation?

One of the most relevant questions drivers may have regarding this new rule is, “what qualifies as a violation of the clearinghouse?” 

Historically, the DOT has always tested for controlled substances, including amphetamines and methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates and PCP. Any failed tests involving any of these substances will have to be reported on the clearinghouse, in addition to DOT alcohol results of 0.04 BAC and above, refusals to submit to DOT tests, instances of alcohol use within four hours prior to performing (or while performing) a "safety-sensitive function, and

Alcohol use prior to post-accident alcohol testing.

How Do the Tests Work?

This article from EHSDailyAdvisor explains how the drug and alcohol testing process usually works.

“Employers typically contract with a diagnostic laboratory to conduct urinalysis and medical professionals to review test results. However, employers remain responsible for the compliance of service agents, and there are civil penalties for noncompliance.”

Updates in Workplace Policy 

In addition to mandatory testing and reporting, CMV employers are also required to have a written policy on controlled substance use and alcohol misuse in their workplace, and the policy needs to be clearly explained and provided to every driver. CMV employers are also required to train any supervisors on the new policy and rule. 

The EHSDailyAdvisor article also clearly outlines more responsibilities of CMV employers regarding the new clearinghouse rule. 

“FMCSA rules require pre-employment, random, and postaccident testing. CMV drivers are subject to random testing even when at home in an off-duty status. Once an employer has notified a driver of required random testing, the driver must report to a testing location for a random drug or alcohol test. Supervisors also may compel drivers to submit to testing if they exhibit signs of drug or alcohol abuse. Reasonable suspicion is based on observations of appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of a driver.”

How Can the Clearinghouse Navigator Help?

We designed Clearinghouse Navigator to help all stakeholders maintain immediate and ongoing compliance with the new requirements. With eLearning courses designed to help CMV employers and employees grasp the concepts and processes involved in the new rule, a timeline outlining when and how the new rule came to be, and answers to many of the most frequently asked questions people have, Clearinghouse Navigator really is a one-stop-shop for all the necessary information on the new FMCSA rule. 

None of the courses offered on Clearinghouse Navigator are designed to stump you, or make your life difficult. The reason we launched Clearinghouse Navigator is to ensure all those who need to learn the new FMCSA rule have every tool at their disposal to do just that. With multiple learning plans, a wide variety of information, and a committed team of experts ready and willing to help, we’re confident you’ll find everything you need on the site. 

It can be difficult to adapt to change, especially when you have a limited time to do so. But with a little help from the team and courses of Clearinghouse Navigator, learning the new FMCSA rule will be a breeze. Use this blog as a general resource for the new rule, but always do additional research on ideas you might not be familiar with.