Proposed drug and alcohol clearinghouse for truckers advances

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 3/29/2013

The federal government took a step forward this week in the process to establish a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial drivers. If it is established, a clearinghouse would be available for employers to check for positive drug or alcohol tests prior to hiring drivers.

The clearinghouse is currently in the “proposal” stage in the federal pipeline. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration took a necessary administrative step on Tuesday, March 26, by delivering a notice of proposed rulemaking to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

A final rule is still a ways off; however, the highway law MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, requires the creation of a drug and alcohol clearinghouse by Oct. 1, 2014.

Public details are limited at this point as to what may appear in an eventual final rule.

According to the FMCSA, the rule would require employers to report “verified positive” drug and alcohol tests as well as refusals by drivers to submit to testing to a federal database. Employers could then access the database prior to hiring drivers.

“This rulemaking is intended to increase highway safety by ensuring CDL holders, who have tested positive or have refused to submit to testing, have completed the U.S. DOT’s return-to-duty process before driving CMVs in interstate or intrastate commerce,” the agency states in the limited available public information.

“It is also intended to ensure that employers are meeting their drug and alcohol testing responsibilities.”

The FMCSA initiated the rulemaking process on the clearinghouse in 2009. MAP-21, which became law in July 2012, set additional requirements and included the target of October 2014.

Once the notice of proposed rulemaking clears the Office of Management and Budget, it will publish to the Federal Register and the agency will conduct a public comment period. The agency has targeted May 28 for the notice to clear OMB, but that is not a hard-and-fast date.

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