Employers With DOT Drivers Have New Requirements!

Do you employ DOT drivers?  If so, have you registered with the Clearinghouse?  Beginning January 6, 2020, you now have the following requirements:

  • Report drug and alcohol violations. This will include alcohol test results with a concentration of .04 or greater, refusals to take an alcohol or drug test, as well as actual knowledge of a violation.
  • Employers will also report negative return-to-duty (RTD) test results and the successful completion of a driver’s follow-up testing plan.
  • The information above must be reported by the close of the third business day after the employer is informed.
  • Conduct queries to check if prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating CMVs, due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation.
  • Employers are also required to query all current employees at least annually. All queries require driver consent.
  • Until January 6, 2023, conduct both electronic queries in the Clearinghouse and send manual offline inquiries to previous employers for pre-employment driver investigations.

In an effort to address the situation in which drivers can conceal their drug and alcohol violations merely by moving on to the next job or the next jurisdiction, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) created the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is an online tool for drivers, employers, and service agents to report and search for drug and alcohol violations. The drug and alcohol violation records maintained in the Clearinghouse will “follow” the driver regardless of how many times he or she changes employers, seeks employment or applies for a Commercial Driver License in a different State.

Employers and medical review officers (MROs), or their designated representatives, are required to report information about positive drug test results, alcohol test results greater than 0.04 blood alcohol content, refusals to test and other non-test violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations. In addition, Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) are required to report information about drivers undergoing the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process. Employers must search the Clearinghouse for information during the pre-employment process for prospective employees and at least once a year for current employees to determine whether anyone has incurred a drug or alcohol violation with a different employer that would prohibit him or her from performing safety-sensitive functions.

All queries require driver consent; the type of consent depends on the query type.

An employer should run a “full query” in the following situations:

  • Pre-employment check on prospective driver, or
  • Limited query returned records found for queried driver, or
  • Ad hoc/periodic check on driver.

Full queries require the driver’s consent electronically within the Clearinghouse. If the driver has a violation and no negative RTD test result, then the driver should be removed from safety-sensitive functions.

An employer should run a “limited query” in the following situations:

  • Annual check on currently employed driver; or
  • Ad hoc/periodic check on driver.

Limited queries require the driver’s consent outside the Clearinghouse on a form provided to them by the employer. The limited query consent form must specify a time range. The form may have an electronic or wet signature, and it should be retained via paper or electronically in the driver’s qualification file. If a limited query comes back stating there are records found for that driver, then the employer should run a full query. If the full query is not conducted within 24 hours, then the driver should be removed from safety-sensitive functions, including operating a CMV.

Employers who do not comply with the FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements are subject to the civil and/or criminal penalties set forth at 49 U.S.C. 521(b)(2)(C) (i.e., civil penalties not to exceed $2,500 for each offense).