The Clearinghouse rule, as part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), was implemented for regulated employers on January 6, 2020. The rule’s primary purpose is to set up a secure database or “Clearinghouse” that gives employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.
While the purpose is clear, many people in the trucking industry often wonder who has access to the private and often sensitive information contained on the database. Let’s explore the different types of qualified personnel that have access to the information and how the information can be used.
According to Clearinghouse services online, there are several groups of individuals who have access to the drug and alcohol test results that are contained on the Clearinghouse database. These include:
Commercial drivers must register in order to perform activities in the Clearinghouse. For instance, they can provide consent for a query regarding their status, review their current information regarding testing, petition the Clearinghouse to challenge the accuracy of the information, and identify the substance abuse professional who will oversee their Return to Work Protocol.
Employers must register with the Clearinghouse in order to put in a query for their employees test results. Employers can assign Consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPA) in the Clearinghouse to work in the Clearinghouse on behalf of the employer.
Those employer representatives can complete several actions within the Clearinghouse database. Those actions include: reporting alcohol tests (.04 and above), reporting known violations of drugs, reporting Substance Abuse Professional follow up testing, and reporting negative results for Return to Duty Protocols. Each of these reports must be done within at least three business days of obtaining the information.
Medical review officers (MRO) have several consequential duties when it comes to reporting to the Clearinghouse database. A MRO is legally required to report positive drug tests, refusals by drivers to take testing, and must report any changes in medical results such as tests that changed from negative to positive within three business days.
In addition to these requirements, the MRO must also report any potential detection of cheating on drug or alcohol testing.
The last group that has legal access to the information contained on the database are substance abuse professionals (SAP). The SAP can enter information such as successful completion of Return to Duty protocols including compliance with education and treatment requirements.
Outside of the professionals listed here, the database is meant to be closed to outsiders and the information meant to be protected. For more information on how you request a user role on the Clearinghouse check out this resource.