Truckload Carriers Association
Robin Hutcheson

Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse starts proactive notifications this month

March 7, 2023
FMCSA administrator announced that the agency is closing the loophole that didn’t notify current carriers if one of their drivers failed a pre-employment query with another fleet.

KISSIMMEE, Florida—The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse will become more proactive by the end of March, notifying current employers if a company driver fails a pre-employment screening with another carrier, FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson said.

"You came to us with a problem about a loophole in the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, which made it possible for a driver to have a drug or alcohol violation reported by another employer after a pre-employment query, but before an annual one—so the current employer might never be aware of it," Hutcheson said during remarks at the Truckload Carriers Association convention at the Gaylord Palms Resort outside Orlando. 

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"I'm happy to report today that we're implementing a system improvement to address that issue," she continued. "The clearinghouse will very soon start notifying employers if there's a change to a driver's clearinghouse record up to 12 months following a query. This is going to happen later this month."

Since its debut in 2020, the clearinghouse has registered more than 3 million drivers and 425,000 employers, including more than 225,000 owner-operators. As of late last year, 4.5 million CDL holders were queried within the first three years; more than 170,000 drivers were cited for violations.

See also: More TCA 2023 news from Florida

After a positive test, a truck driver goes into return-to-duty status and can't get behind the wheel until they've cleared that status, which includes a regimen of counseling and more testing that can go on for months or even years. Nearly 90,000 drivers haven't completed this process as of December, meaning they've given up on using their CDLs or are driving illegally.

Prospective fleets hiring new drivers no longer have to ask driver applicants or their previous employers for their drug and alcohol testing history. As of Jan. 6, carriers can now conduct a free employment query within the clearinghouse.

Hutcheson also said that she's met with the Department of Health and Human Services about expanding drug testing to include hair follicle testing. She anticipates that HHS will propose revised screening methods later this summer regarding whether hair testing is an acceptable screening method for results submitted to federal agencies, including the clearinghouse.

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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