Changes to DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing for 2020: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Clearinghouse

December 06, 2019
By TAC Risk Control Consultant Larry Boccaccio, CRM, and TAC Risk Control Consultant Isaac Garcia, ME
Risk Management News

  • Share this:

What are the changes and how do they apply to counties?

Starting Jan. 6, 2020, all employers — including counties — who employ drivers with commercial driver's licenses (CDL) will be required by federal law to use the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Currently, an employer is required to contact the previous employer of any new CDL driver they hire to verify that they've had no FMCSA drug and alcohol violations during the last two years. When this contact is made, it's to check if the driver:

Failed Drug Test
  • Has ever tested positive for a controlled substance in the past two years, except for medication for which they have a valid prescription from a licensed medical practitioner
  • Has ever had an alcohol breath test with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or greater in the past two years, or
  • Has ever refused a drug or alcohol test required by the FMCSA standard.

The purpose of the FMCSA Clearinghouse is to make this process easier and more effective. The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that gives employers, FMCSA, state driver licensing agencies and state law enforcement personnel real-time information about CDL driver's drug and alcohol program violations, thereby enhancing safety on our nation's roadways. An act of Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish this clearinghouse.

How does this impact your county procedure? This will not affect most of your drug and alcohol testing procedures but will affect the contact currently made with previous employers.

  • 2020 to 2022 – For the first three years of the Clearinghouse, employers are required to query the FMCSA Clearinghouse database and contact previous employers covering the preceding three years of an applicant's drug and alcohol testing records. In addition, the new regulations issued by the FMCSA will require employers to query the database at least once per year for each current employee.
  • 2023 and beyond – After 2023, employers will only be required to query the FMCSA database for the applicant's drug and alcohol testing records. Federal motor carrier regulations will continue to require employers to query the database at least once a year for each currently employed CDL driver.

See the FMCSA Clearinghouse for more information.

TAC assistance is available. Members of the TAC Risk Management Pool in need of assistance modifying their procedures or creating new procedures to comply with the FMCSA regulations can contact your TAC Risk Control Consultant.