Drug-Alcohol Clearinghouse: Employer asset or capacity killer?

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In January, a new FMCSA regulation will take effect that may help fleets avoid hiring drivers who could be a liability to the company. It could also further reduce the already-tight pool of eligible drivers and take a bite out of capacity.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a new online database that will give employers access to information about CDL driver drug and alcohol violations. Employers are required to start using the database on Jan. 6, 2020.

Congress mandated the clearinghouse in 2016 and set rules for those who are required to use it. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions, taken from the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Fact Sheet.

Confused about ever-changing regulations? DAT Fleet Compliance has you covered.


How do I stay legal?

  • January 6, 2020 – Employers will be required to conduct both electronic queries and traditional manual inquiries with previous employers to meet the three-year timeframe for checking CDL driver violation histories. Drivers may also view their own records for information recorded on or after January 6, 2020.
  • January 6, 2023 – Once three years of violation data are stored in the clearinghouse, employers are no longer required to also request information from the driver’s previous FMCSA-regulated employers. An employer’s query of the clearinghouse will satisfy that requirement.

Got questions about compliance? Contact our fleet service experts.

What information will the clearinghouse contain?

The clearinghouse will contain information on all CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations. These violations include:

  • Report for duty/remain on duty for safety-sensitive function with alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater or while using any drug specified in the regulations (part 40), other than those prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.
  • Alcohol use while performing, or within four hours of performing a safety-sensitive function.
  • Alcohol use within eight hours of a post-accident alcohol test.
  • Test positive for use of specified drugs.
  • Refusing to submit to a required alcohol or drug test.

On the DAT blog: Driver shortage or truck surplus?

How will employers use the clearinghouse?

Employers will report drug and alcohol violations and check that no current or prospective employee is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle, due to a drug and alcohol program violation for which a driver has not successfully completed a Return-To-Duty process.

How will drivers use the clearinghouse?

CDL drivers can view their own record, provide consent to current or prospective employers to access details about any drug and alcohol program violations, and select a substance abuse professional, if needed.

For more information, visit the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse website.

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