Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

U.S. Transportation Safety—A Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse?

Posted by STP Editorial Team on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 an effort to reduce “significant risk to public safety,” the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) now proposes to establish a new Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for drug and alcohol test results for drivers operating under a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The clearinghouse would also track traffic citations for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUIs).

Employers currently find it difficult to discover which drivers are disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) due to a positive drug or alcohol test result or a refusal to be tested. They have had to rely on drivers to provide this information—and the drivers, of course, may not disclose it.

The proposed clearinghouse would provide a readily accessible, centralized database administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Who Must Report What?

Regulations would be in place requiring information to be submitted to the clearinghouse by:

  • FMCSA-regulated motor carrier employers. 

  • Medical Review Officers (MROs). 

  • Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs). 

  • Consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs) supporting DOT testing programs.

The information that must be reported would include, specifically:

  • Verified positive, adulterated, and substituted drug test results.

  • Positive alcohol test results.

  • Yest refusals.

  • Negative return-to-duty test results. 

  • Information on follow-up testing.

  • An employer’s actual knowledge of DUI traffic citations.

Regulations would also set out the conditions for accessing, maintaining, updating, and removing information from the database, and for releasing information to current or prospective employers and other authorized entities.

How Will the Clearinghouse Improve Safety?

As a condition of allowing employees to perform safety-sensitive functions, employers and certain service agents would be required to search the clearinghouse database for records of both current and prospective employees’ positive drug and alcohol test results, and refusals to test. Employers would have to ensure that any drivers with such results receive the required evaluation and treatment before operating a CMV.

Drivers with a positive test result would no longer be able to hide that information either from a current employer if the test was done for a prospective employer, or from a prospective employer if the test was done for a current employer. Also, a driver could not hide a positive test result received in the pre-employment period by waiting for the substance to leave his or her system and then taking a new test.

Employers, in turn, would have greater accountability for implementing mandatory DOT alcohol and drug testing programs, because the proposed clearinghouse regulations would require authorized testing laboratories to provide FMCSA with annual reports identifying the motor carriers for which they have provided services. FMCSA would use that data to identify which employers do not have active testing programs.

Full Text and Opportunity to Comment

The full text of the proposal is published in the Federal Register (79 FR 9703), and anyone wishing to submit comments on the proposal should submit them to DOT by April 21, 2014.

STP has recently released an update to its publication DOT Hazardous Materials Transportation & Motor Carrier Safety: Federal Regulatory Guide and also publishes the following related guides:

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, Employee Rights, Training, EHS, Transportation