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Dec 07 Written by 

Why The CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Will Save You Hours

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If you haven't heard, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made a big announcement. They're establishing a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial truck and bus drivers. This will be known as the CDL Clearinghouse. So, what does this mean for employers regulated under the FMCSA? 

What is the CDL Clearinghouse?

The CDL Clearinghouse is a database of all commercial driver license holder's drug and alcohol violations. It will be an extension of the FMCSA drug and alcohol regulations in 49 CFR Part 382. Employers will be able to query the database to comply with the federal regulations. This will make checking an employee's drug and alcohol testing history take seconds instead of days. 

The CDL Clearinghouse data includes:

  • Positive, substituted, or adulterated drug test results
  • Positive alcohol tests 0.04 BrAC or higher
  • Driver refusals to submit to a drug or alcohol test
  • Completion of a successful return-to-duty process reported by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
  • Completion of a successful follow-up program as reported by an employer
  • Negative return-to-duty tests
  • Employer having actual knowledge of on-duty alcohol use, pre-duty alcohol use, alcohol use following an accident, and controlled substance use

Why is the CDL Clearinghouse being put in place?

A commercial motor vehicle driver is verified before they can work. This includes checking their drug and alcohol testing history. First, you get the employee's consent. Then, fax the paperwork to the previous employer's and then wait for a response. This process is tedious and you're lucky if you even get a response. For these reasons, the FMCSA decided to establish the CDL Clearinghouse. It will speed up this process and reduce the employer's administrative burden.  

Here's the bad news

The CDL Clearinghouse isn't going to go into effect until January 2020. There's a lot of moving parts and it's going to take public and private participation. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions we have to cut down on time and solve the verification problem.

Alternative solutions while you wait

There are some innovative companies that recognized this problem early on. Tenstreet is one of them. Tenstreet developed Xchange which allows you to digitally fax and receive commercial driver verifications. This includes the driver's drug and alcohol history.

There are also credit reporting agencies (CRAs) that will outsource this task so you don't have to. But, CRAs can have the same problems that most employers do. It may take weeks or they may not receive an answer at all but, at least you don't have to do it. Search for a company that does background checks. Ask them if they do driver verifications that include drug and alcohol history.  

Looks like we'll have to wait a couple of years before the CDL Clearinghouse goes into effect. Until then, there are alternative ways to solve the headaches of verifying commercial driver's drug and alcohol history. Use a digital solution to make the process faster, or outsource it so you don't have to. 

We write helpful info for safety managers in the transportation industry. If you enjoyed this article please share it with a colleague. 


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1635 Last modified on Monday, 05 March 2018
Hagen DeRouen

Co-founder & CEO at Screensoft. 5+ years experience with employment screening program management and guidance. Certifications including FCRA basic, MRO assistant, and professional collector trainer. 

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