If you're not exactly sure what you need to do to prepare for the FMCSA's new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, you're not alone. A recent poll by the Overdrive publication asked carriers "Have you taken steps to get ready for the drug and alcohol clearinghouse?" and 72% of the 450+ respondents said they had not. Perhaps more revealing, 29% of those respondents didn't know what the clearinghouse is.
The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a new searchable database created by the FMCSA so that employers can identify prospective drivers who have drug and alcohol violations. Whether you're an employer, an owner-operator, or a company driver, you must meet certain requirements by specific dates. Here's what's required:
Deadline: Jan. 6, 2020
Requirements: Companies that employ drivers — whether it's one driver or hundreds — must create a user account in the clearinghouse and begin using the database when hiring a new driver. For the first three years, when hiring a new employee, companies must query the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse AND conduct a manual inquiry with the applicant's previous employer. After Jan. 6, 2023, employers can simply query the database and do not have to conduct the manual inquiry. In order to use the clearinghouse, employers must first purchase a Query Plan from the FMCSA. Users can pay a flat fee of $1.25 per query or purchase bundles of queries.
Deadline: Jan. 6, 2020
Requirements: Owner operators are considered both employers and drivers. Therefore, before Jan. 6 owner-operators must create a user account in the clearinghouse and designate a consortium or third-party administrator of their drug and alcohol tests. This administrator will report any violations and enter it into the clearinghouse database. Owner-operators must query themselves at least once per year, and meet all the other requirements of an employer.
Requirements: Drivers are not required to register for the clearinghouse. However, they will need to be registered in order to provide electronic consent to either a prospective employer or if their current employer needs to conduct a full query of the driver's record in the clearinghouse. Drivers must also be registered if they want to check their own record in the clearinghouse.
For more information about the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the FMCSA has created a Frequently Asked Questions page with more than 50 questions and answers, and a Learning Center with links to additional resources on the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.