New reporting and reviewing requirements in effect for employers with DOT drivers

published in McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC | February 21, 2020

Effective January 6, 2020, companies who employ commercial motor vehicle drivers must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) national Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse and comply with new reporting and reviewing responsibilities.

The Clearinghouse, which can be accessed at, is a secure, online database that will maintain information about violations of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol regulations by commercial driver license (CDL) holders for five years.   One of the Clearinghouse’s purposes is to allow employers to identify drivers who have committed a violation while working for another employer, but who have not informed their prospective or current employer of that violation.

New reporting obligations

Within three business days after a DOT drug and alcohol violation by an individual, employers must now report to the Clearinghouse:

  • A verified positive, adulterated or substituted drug test result;
  • An alcohol confirmation test result with a concentration of 0.04 or higher;
  • A refusal to submit to a drug or alcohol test;
  • An employer’s report of actual knowledge of on-duty or pre-duty alcohol use;
  • An employer’s actual knowledge of alcohol use following an accident;
  • A substance abuse professional’s report of successful completion of the return-to-duty process;
  • A negative return-to-duty test; and
  • A report of completion of follow-up testing.

New reviewing responsibilities

A new review process for new hires, transfers, and current employees also comes into play.

Before a new employee can operate a commercial vehicle, or before a current employee transfers into a position requiring the operation of a commercial vehicle, the employer must first “query” the Clearinghouse to determine whether they have violated drug and alcohol regulations in the past. Further, for every current employee who operates a commercial vehicle, the employer must “query” the Clearinghouse one time each year to determine whether current employees have violated any drug and alcohol regulations. When conducting any new hire, transfer or current employee queries, the employer must first obtain the employees’ consent.

Time to revise your policy

The creation of the Clearinghouse and the new reporting and reviewing processes means updates to your DOT drug and alcohol policy are in order. Specifically, employers should add language to their existing DOT policies notifying drivers and driver applicants of the information that will be reported to the Clearinghouse and advising they will be required to provide consent for the employer to conduct queries as to their own drug and alcohol policy history.