The Evolution of the FMCSA Clearinghouse

The new FMCSA rule that will require CMV drivers to register their alcohol and drug violations on a federal clearinghouse is meant to keep the roads safer. But how, exactly, did the new rule come to be? 

The answer to that question involves the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, the North American Transportation Association, and CMV employers across the country. In this article, we’ll break down both the conception and evolution of the new FMCSA clearinghouse. 

The Root Problem

There was a loophole that allowed truck drivers who failed a drug or alcohol test to get rehired by another carrier not long after the infraction. The issue was in the medical certification process, meaning people with significant health issues or previous drug & alcohol records were not being flagged in the system. 

This caused massive issues for CMV employers, particularly after a bus crash in 1999. It’s bad news for everyone involved when the driver behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle has a proven track record of dangerous behaviour. As a result, the FMCSA began to develop more effective systems. 

The Solution (The Clearinghouse)

One of the major reasons drivers with past infractions weren’t being identified was due to the lack of a universal system between CMV Employers, substance abuse officers, and the drivers themselves. This is where the clearinghouse enters the picture. 

The FMCSA clearinghouse is a main location where employers of CMV operators will be required to report drug and alcohol violations to the Clearinghouse. It should create a database that can be referred to by employers, licensing agencies, and any other professionals who need to know a drivers background. 

The Implementation

On January 6, 2020, mandatory use of the clearinghouse to query driver history and report violations begins. Employers will also be required to check the Clearinghouse for violation information for any new applicants, and once per year for all current employees. The employer must obtain the driver's consent before making any queries, but will not be able to use the employee in a safety-sensitive function, such as CMV driving, if consent is not received.

The types of violations that will be reported on the clearinghouse include positive drug test results, DOT alcohol results of .004 BAC and above, and refusals to submit DOT tests. 

Where You Can Go to Learn More 

Visit the home page of our website by clicking here. On Clearinghouse Navigator, you’ll be able to learn more about the new rule, and also take detailed and expertly-crafted eLearning courses instructing employers on how to comply with the law. 

Clearinghouse Navigator is your one stop shop to learn the rule, understand the rule, and ensure you’re complying with it accurately.