Starting on March 9, 2023, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rolled out a new email notification process to employers utilizing the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Going forward, the FMCSA indicates they will notify employers via email if there is a change to a driver’s record in the clearinghouse record up to 12 months following a driver query. This includes an employer’s pre-employment queries and annual queries. Previously, the FMCSA would notify employers only if there was a change within 30 days of the driver query. The new notification process may provide more information to employers when they make driver selection and retention decisions, including a driver’s return-to-duty status, if a violation has been removed, or if a new violation has occurred.
If the new information results in a ‘prohibited’ status in the clearinghouse, motor carriers are encouraged to run a full follow-up query. This requires the driver’s specific consent within 24 hours to determine if the new information prohibits the driver performing a safety-sensitive function.
Access to the clearinghouse’s real-time information can be a great risk management tool for motor carriers and help them make more-informed decisions pertaining to driver selection and retention. For more information about the clearinghouse’s new notification process and consent requests, please visit the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse website: https://www.clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov.
WHAT IS THE NEW CDL DOWNGRADE RULE?
The final rule regarding commercial driver’s license (CDL) downgrades will take effect on November 18, 2024. According to the rule, this means that State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) must query the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse before issuing, renewing, upgrading, or transferring CDLs and commercial learner’s permits (CLPs).
The SDLAs must review a driver’s information when notified by the clearinghouse of any status change to the driver. If the driver’s record shows a ‘prohibited’ status, the SDLA will be required to remove the driver’s CDL or CLP privilege from the driver’s license. This will result in a downgrade of the license until the driver complies with the return-to-duty requirements.
CALL TO ACTION
- Register with the FMCSA's Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, if required.
- Encourage drivers to register voluntarily with the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
- Educate drivers on operations staff on how the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse works.
Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive
This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Joe Morten & Son, Inc. does not provide legal advice to its insureds or other parties, nor does it advise insureds or other parties on employment-related issues, therefore the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds or other parties. Legal advice should always be sought from legal counsel. Joe Morten & Son, Inc. shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein. Reprinted with permission from Great West Casualty Company.