Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association - PENNTRUX Magazine, Q4 2019

22 PENNTRUX In conjunction with our prior article, Some Clarity Through The Smoke in the 2019 third quarter edition of PennTRUX, this piece will provide an overview of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s (FMCSA) new Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse). The Clearinghouse is the latest attempt by FMCSA to improve highway safety and is codified in subpart G of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing regulations, 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 382. See 49 CFR § 382.701. The What and the When… Beginning on January 6, 2020, the Clearinghouse rule will require FMCSA- regulated employers, Owner-Operators, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), consortia/third party administrators (C/ TPAs), and other service agents to report to the Clearinghouse information related to violations of the drug and alcohol regulations in 49 CFR, parts 40 and 382 by current and prospective employees. “The Clearinghouse will provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV based on DOT drug and alcohol program violations and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before operating a CMV on public roads. Specifically, information maintained in the Clearinghouse will enable employers to identify drivers who commit a drug or alcohol program violation while working for one employer, but who fail to subsequently inform another employer (as required by current regulations). Records of drug and alcohol program violations will remain in the Clearinghouse for five (5) years, or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process, whichever is later.” The Clearinghouse will be a secure online database which will allow employers to identify drivers who are not legally permitted to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) due to drug and alcohol program violations. Such violations will include positive drug or alcohol test results, refusals and other drug and alcohol violations for drivers required to have their CDL. When a driver completes the return-to-duty (RTD) process, this information will also be reported in the Clearinghouse. The rule will help improve safety by ensuring that no CMV operators who have committed drug and alcohol violations can attempt to work with another employer before completing RTD requirements, which includes evaluation and treatment by a substance abuse professional (SAP). The goal is to prevent drivers from being able to hide violations as their records will be accessible even if they change employers or apply for a CMV license in another state. In this regard, the database will provide real-time access and updates so that employers can make better decisions. The database will be equally accessible to motor carriers hiring owner operators as independent contractors. Similarly, the database will also provide real-time access to the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and law enforcement officials to help them identify CDL drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements. This information and knowledge will allow these entities to take any necessary action in order to maintain safety on our nation’s highways. C learing HousE? ARE YOU READY FOR THE By Lane Brody, Esq., Board Member, South Central Chapter