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FMCSA Announces Increased Random Testing for 2020

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced an increase in the rate of random drug testing for Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers and other safety-sensitive employees. The minimum rate for 2020 will be 50% of the drivers in the testing pool.

This testing rate varies based on the percentage of positive tests each year. Since the rate of positive rose to 1% in 2019, the rate must be increased. Employers are allowed to test at a higher rate. Alcohol testing rate remains at a minimum of 10%.

The complete announcement can be found here.

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Learning Center opened at FMCSA Clearinghouse

Clearinghouse sign-up help, clarifications, guidance are available at the FMCSA Learning Center.

Links to several of these documents are linked here for your convenience. Please SIGN UP HERE for email notification when articles are posted.

Below are links to explanatory brochures and other documents.

HERE is a very helpful step-by-step guide for employers registering for the Clearinghouse.

This Owner-operator Brochure explains the special arrangements needed for drivers who employ themselves.

  • Drivers who employ themselves (any driver with ownership interest in the company they driver for) MUST designate their Service Agent (C/TPA) to report to the Clearinghouse any violations of drug and alcohol testing requirements.
  • If self-employed drivers also employ other drivers, the employer must report any violations by their drivers – or designate CMR to do so.
  • Owner-drivers may perform annual queries, or have CMR do so.

How CMR will act as your Service Agent – employers should read this CTPA BROCHURE

Information about the Clearinghouse in Spanish:

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FMCSA Clearinghouse Query Plans announced

Employers to Query FMCSA Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol rules violations

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announces more details regarding the Clearinghouse Query process

FMCSA has established that employers must purchase “Query Plans” to perform the queries required under the new Clearinghouse for violations by commercial drivers of rules governing illicit drugs use and alcohol use. Employers must register with the Clearinghouse. The plans will cost $1.25 for each query. Plans come in bundles of one query, tens, hundreds, or thousands, at the same price per query. An unlimited plan is available for very large companies. Employers must purchase the Query Plans, even if they have designated a Service Agent (like CMR) to perform the queries and record any violations. Drivers who employ themselves must designate a Service Agent to act as an employer for this purpose, but must still purchase the FMCSA Query Plans from their employer accounts.

Employers must query the Clearinghouse for drivers status

Employers or their Service Agents must perform a “Limited Query” with a driver’s written permission, on each driver at time of hire, and once each year. If the Limited Query identifies no entries for a given driver, no further action is needed. If the Limited Query discloses there have been entries to the Clearinghouse, the employer must perform an additional “Full Query”. The Driver must be registered with the Clearinghouse to give online permission for the Full Query. Employers will then be able to see what violations have been recorded. They will also see whether any violations have been remediated – i.e. whether a Substance Abuse Professional has indicated completion of any required treatment and education. In addition the Clearinghouse records will indicate if Return to Duty and Follow-up testing has been successfully completed.

Service Agents must be authorized by Employers

Employers must assure that any violations of drug and alcohol regulations will be reported to the Clearinghouse. Self-employed drivers must designate their Service Agent (C/TPA) to perform this function. Employers of drivers other than themselves MAY designate the Service Agent to report on their behalf, and to perform Queries on their drivers. Medical Review Officers (MROs) and Service Agents have reporting requirements in addition to any they may perform on behalf of the employer.

Further information

Additional information is available from the FMCSA Clearinghouse website and in this News and Notes article

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Prepare for Commercial Driver Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Commercial Driver Drug and Alcohol Test Clearinghouse is a database of violations and corrective actions. It is scheduled to begin operations next year. Advance planning is necessary.

Before January 6, 2020 all employers of commercial drivers must be registered to hire new drivers.

Effective January 6, 2020, any motor carrier hiring a new driver must check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Employers must affirm any prospective employee has no violation of drug and alcohol rules. Employers (or their agents) must report any violations to the database.

All self-employed drivers must designate their drug testing service (C/TPA) as the source of their required reporting.

Registration for all “Authorized Users” opens in October, 2019.

Other employers may wish to have their C/TPA screen applicants.

Arrangements should be made promptly to enable a smooth transition.

Commercial drivers must authorize inquiries by prospective employers and for annual rechecks by current employers.

(Updated 8/3/19): Permission can be granted with paper forms for an employer to perform a “Limited Query”. The driver does NOT need to register or create an account to allow Limited Query. If there are entries regarding violations, however, a driver must register and give permission for a “Full Query” that will disclose what violation(s) have been recorded. Any remedial actions will come up on a Full Query. Registered Drivers may also check their status and seek corrections when necessary.

Current paper inquiries continue for three years

Until 2023, when the Clearinghouse database will populated with three years of data, employers are required to get paper authorization from each job candidate and mail a request for information to former employers, as is currently required.

More information from FMCSA:

FMSCA Clearinghouse newsletters sign-up and Frequently Asked Questions

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CMR: New site, updated mission

In an effort to provide timely and authoritative information to my clients and the public in general, I am developing this system to create articles of interest and assemble them into newsletters. Please register for the newsletter if you wish to receive occasional and irregular updates on topics of interest to commercial drivers and their employers regarding drugs and alcohol testing of these and other federally regulated employees.

I welcome your comments, but shall publish them. I may respond directly, or with an article to reflect concerns and questions, or I may not respond.  At some point in future we may open up to public dialogue.