On January 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a secure database which stores certain drug and alcohol testing information related to certain CDL and Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) holders.
CDL and CLP holders in the school bus and over-the-road industries are covered by these rules. Notably, FMCSA rules do not apply to most other mass transit employees who hold a CLP or CDL. Your employers have likely begun to ask members subject to FMCSA rules for consent to search the Clearinghouse database for any reported violations of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug and alcohol testing requirements.
Employers, medical review officers (MROs), substance abuse professionals (SAPs) and others are now required to report to the Clearinghouse positive drug and alcohol tests, refusals to test, and other drug testing program violations. Additionally, employers are now required to check the Clearinghouse database for violations by each covered employee at least once annually, and by any prospective employee who would be subject to FMCSA regulations.
Although employers are required to secure an employee’s consent prior to conducting a search of the Clearinghouse database, an employee who does not consent to the search of the database cannot perform any safety sensitive functions—i.e., a non-consenting employee can neither drive a bus which requires a CDL to operate nor maintain such a bus.
This memo summarizes employees’ rights and responsibilities regarding the Clearinghouse, the kinds of information stored in the database, and the ways employers, their agents, State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and medical professionals interact with that information. For detailed instructions on registering with the Clearinghouse as a driver, please see the enclosed FMCSA brochure and the FMCSA’s detailed FAQ.