Originally called the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the database would essentially require motor carriers to input any positive test results or refusals. It would also compel carriers to check the database when hiring new operators.
In addition to keeping the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) informed, fleets would be required to conduct an annual inquiry for current truck drivers and report any citations for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
As you know, owner-operators are required by law to undergo random testing through a consortium. They must report the results to the FMCSA or third-party administrator. They will also be required to submit information on themselves into the database.
Carriers would also be required to obtain written consent from an operator before they inquire about said operator. If the operator refuses to give the carrier permission to check the database, they would then become ineligible to drive.
If a truck driver gets a DUI that doesn’t end up in a conviction, the FMCSA would then have to remove the information from the database within two business days.
Operators will also be allowed to appeal results by requesting an administrative review. This request must be submitted in writing and contain an explanation as to why they think the system is in error. The FMCSA then has 60 days to come back with a decision on the inquiry.
If a truck driver completes the process and returns to duty after failing a drug test, those positive results will be accessible for three to five years, though the final number won’t be out until the rule is published.
The FMCSA has outlines two different methods of inquiry, full and limited. A full query allows the motor carrier to see all reportable information in the operator’s record. A full inquiry requires written consent from the operator.
A limited query would be used only for employment screenings. The full query would be for pre-employment queries only.
Per FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, the agency is “leveraging technology to create a one-stop verification point to help companies hire drug and alcohol-free drivers.”
They go on to project that the rule could result in almost $200 million in annual societal benefits. At the same time, estimates are that it would cost the trucking industry almost the same amount. Motor carriers could expect to spend about $28 million annually to perform the query and $10 million to conduct pre-employment queries. Another $101 million rings in as drivers go through the return-to-duty process.
While the trucking industry is never a fan of increased costs (what industry is?) there has been an mixed reaction to the rule, and not all has been smooth sailing. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) had to petition the government to modify the rule when it came out that there was no mandatory requirement for submitting direct observations of misuse or employee admission of a violation.